August 28, 2014
Virginians should have a right to choose how and from where they get their electricity. But the state’s second largest utility, Appalachian Power Company, has proposed a Tax on the Sun, which will limit consumers’ ability to put solar panels on their homes.
The company wants to impose a “stand-by” charge on residential customers with larger photovoltaic solar systems (10 kW or more) who arrange to send any extra energy they don’t use back to the power grid. The “stand-by” charge, so the argument goes, is to reimburse the utility for the cost of customers’ use of the distribution lines. The move would penalize homeowners for generating clean energy on their own homes, and already customers opposing the new fee.
If the State Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities in Virginia, approves the new fee, Appalachian Power customers’ bills could jump by up to $900 per year. Solar energy provides numerous environmental and reliability benefits, that should be encouraged rather than punished, but now the basic freedom to affordably generate energy on one’s private property is at risk.
The argument for a “stand-by” charge has been used by many utilities, including Dominion Virginia Power, as one of many ways to maintain the business-as-usual model of large, centralized, dirty power plants owned by the utility, rather than encouraging distributed energy generation owned by its customers.
Virginia has much to gain from increased solar investments. The recent price drops in solar technology coupled with the opportunity for new local jobs put the Commonwealth in a position to catch up to neighboring states who are dramatically outpacing us.
Bottomline, Appalachian Power should be finding ways to work with customers who want to install solar panels on their roofs, not standing in the way of consumer choice and the market.
In order to fight this tax on the sun, we need Appalachian Power customers in Virginia to speak out and oppose this tax on the sun! Please take a minute and sign our petition and also check out the upcoming events in the region:
- Sept. 4: Issue Discussion at eNRG meeting in Abingdon, email hannah[at]appvoices.org for details
- Sept. 8: Protect Energy Choice Workshop in Blacksburg
- Sept. 16: State Corporation Commission hearing on Appalachian Power case
- Sept. 25: Protect Energy Choice Workshop in Abingdon
- TBA: Protect Energy Choice Workshop in Floyd