Community Solar Legislation on the Table for Virginia

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Democratic senator Scott Surovell is supporting community solar legislation that would bring a new subscription program to Virginia. Senate Bill 629 was created to establish programs for homeowners and small businesses in Dominion Energy’s territory. These programs would serve as a “subscribe and save” method of solar, similar to standard community solar operations.

According to the current draft of the community solar legislation, the program will start with a 150-megawatt cap. To fit within the standards of other community solar projects, local advocates are calling for at least 30% of the subscriptions to be reserved for low-income homeowners. If the program meets that goal, its cap could increase to 200 megawatts. To support the 200 megawatts, the larger picture will be broken down into individual projects. Per Senate Bill 629, those projects would not be able to exceed 5 megawatts.

As is typically key with most community solar programs, the program created by Senate Bill 629 allows underserved communities to participate in an otherwise difficult-to-obtain resource. Though solar energy is a vast resource, the means of obtaining and converting it into usable power is costly. Homeowners must purchase and install expensive solar panels on their property, whereas renters are without any option if their landlord isn’t willing to make the switch.

Supporting the notion that the program shouldn’t just benefit the wealthy, Surovell wrote that it is essential that low- and moderate-income homeowners are able to participate at the start of the program. He assured that the legislation was written in such a way to promote equitable access to solar power.

In a statement about the program, Virginia policy and development manager Rachel Smucker states that there are concerns over the 150-megawatt cap being too small. She went on to state that developers are anxious to take part in the program and can easily reach that cap once the regulations go into effect in 2023.


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