Virginia Fights Tax on Sun

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:


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6 Responses to Virginia Fights Tax on Sun

  1. Rich Reply

    August 28, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Net Metering customers should pay more for their connection fee so that the utilities may cover the cost of providing and maintaining their infrastructure. As more net metered accounts go online the utilities lose revenue that would otherwise help pay for the infrastructure.

  2. david carr Reply

    August 28, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    A “stand-by” charge on customers with larger photovoltaic generation systems would be a form of discrimination, probably in conflict with anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws. In many states the electric charge is divided into generation and distribution categories, forcing consumers to generate what power they can use, effectively creating a zero load on the grid, to avoid transmission charges. In The North East, transmission is around 70% of the utility bill. I am pleased to teach people about power shaving, power curve smoothing, and how an integrated system using solar, wind, storage batteries and distribution monitoring can be a cost effective alternative to dirty power. Add in a micro grids and more people, or businesses can benefit from a larger installation.

  3. Frank Kelly Reply

    August 28, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Hey Rich, you have Poor reasoning. Net-metering customers with rooftop solar invested their own funds, pay the property taxes along with insurance and upkeep on their systems, provide power when the utilities need it the most, of which they can then sell for more than they are paying for it. Distributed solar lowers stress on the existing grid infrastructure, and helps defers maintenance on existing grid equipment. Not to mention all utility customers pay a monthly fee for the right to be connected. One final point, electricity flows like water, if the generator is not using the kilowatts they flow to his next door neighbor, not back through the substation. Time to get with the program, it’s called the democratization of energy generation. Virginia is for sun lovers too.

  4. Brannon Bloom Reply

    August 29, 2014 at 11:32 am

    When your solar system produces enough power to spin your meter backward, that energy goes through the transmission lines and is sold to [your neighbor] at full retail rate. The utility gets to charge full price for power they did not produce (and only transmitted a very short distance). Let’s not forget this benefit to a utility. In addition, most utilities will purchase your solar RECs and sell them for a profit. The whole argument is a smoke screen. Utilities are realizing that popular demand for solar is enormous and the solar industry is rising to meet that demand. More and more people are investing their own money in solar because it makes so much sense. Every year the implementation has grown exponentially. If this nonsense about transmission lines is the best they can come up with, I’d say they’re running out of ideas. Aren’t these transmission lines owned by the public anyway???

  5. PBM Reply

    August 31, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Arizona is fighting the same battles, instead of joining in, finding a way to profit from Solar energy, giving people another choice, APS is fighting tooth and nail, unethically and underhanded funding of candidates, any means necessary, creating class envy, clouding issues…
    all this done by a state granted MONOPOLOPY!
    millions and millions of Dollars spent that their customers will pay for- and then blaming it on Solar….
    in a state where we should be leaders in the Solar energy industry, getting 300+ days a year of sunshine, we disserve the right to choose where we get our power from… in America we should have the freedom to choose where we get our power from, to become energy independent…

    all their fighting and resistance is just creating a growing group of people that are sick and tried of “gifted Monopolopy’s” and are demanding( and getting) the technology to kiss the utilities goodbye….
    the best anology is that of the ICE companies of the turn of the 1900’s…. may the Utilities go the same way

  6. Phil Champaign Reply

    October 18, 2014 at 11:54 am

    If I should pay more for my electricity because I also have a solar panel on my house, it only makes sense that I should pay more for vegetables at the store because I also have a garden in my yard.
    Yeah, that makes sense.

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