If you’re a utility customer and a voter in Virginia, you may be surprised to learn that the same entity you pay your electric bill to also has the ability to give money to the campaigns of state elected officials.
In Virginia, each year Delegates and Senators convene another session of the General Assembly, and consider legislation pertaining to various topics – everything from whether to allow young children to work in tobacco fields with their parents’ permission to rules for judges and courts to follow to instituting fees on plastic bags at the grocery store.
One area that the legislature spends a substantial amount of time discussing and debating every year is energy, specifically the laws around electric power regulations and guidelines for solar. Often, pro-solar legislation comes up, the kind of bills that installers like us really appreciate. Meant to bring down legal barriers to solar development, lift limits, and help more solar get deployed across the state, examples of good bills recently before the legislature include expanding third-party solar Power Purchase Agreements, strengthening our state requirements for utilities to get energy from carbon-free renewable sources, and raising the cap on solar customers getting full-credit back from the utility for surplus solar from their grid-connected solar energy systems.
Coincidentally, Dominion Power and Appalachian Power company, the two largest investor-owned electric utilities in Virginia by number of customers served, give large sums of money to legislators. Does this link seem odd to you? Curious about how much money your legislators are taking from electric utilities, and whether they vote for the kind of legislation that we as a local solar installer appreciate? Use this tool to see if your Delegate and Senator accept utility money or have pledged not to, however note that for this year the Refund Act – also known as the bill to Repeal the Dominion Tax (HB2645) – did not report out of subcommittee this year, i.e. it died.
Also, take a look at a recent article for links to committee and subcommittee votes where important solar legislation either passed or failed.