Solar Advocates Challenge Dominion Stand By Rate on Residential Solar Systems
Hearing requested by the MDV-SEIA to be held November 3rd
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 12, 2011 – The Virginia State Corporation Commission, as requested by the MDV-SEIA, will hold a hearing on November 3rd, on the Stand By rates proposed by Dominion in July of this year. The MDV-SEIA is the regional chapter of the national trade association for solar energy, the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Legislation passed by the General Assembly allows utilities to collect standby charges from owners of residential solar generation systems ranging from 10kW to 20kW. However, the law only allows the utility to assess charges “on electrical generating facility that exceeds 10 kilowatts” and Dominion can only set the charges to “recover infrastructure costs that are properly associated with serving” these systems.
“The Company’s Stand By rates as proposed are inherently flawed and can be punitive for residential customers using or considering the use of a photovoltaic (PV) solar system,” MDV-SEIA’s Executive Director, Francis Hodsoll stated in his testimony to the commission. “These costs will severely reduce or eliminate the economic value of these systems.”
The MDV-SEIA case focuses on irregularities between the new law and Dominion’s rate proposal. First, Dominion has not provided sufficient data or a proven methodology to show that their proposed rates accurately represent their infrastructure costs caused by 10kw to 20kw solar energy systems.
Second, and more broadly, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems actually reduce a utility’s infrastructure costs. Dominion fails to consider the benefits of distributed generation (DG), which offset the distribution infrastructure costs. PV systems generate electricity at the location where it is used and during the “peak” cost periods. These systems displace the need for power generation that is both high cost as well as a source of carcinogenic and other polluting toxins in the air, thereby, reducing the need for construction of new power plants, new electricity lines and related infrastructure.
Furthermore, Dominion’s stand-by charge structure results in higher charges for a net-metered customer than a regular customer with a similar load profile. Hodsoll added that these rates appear to be a “violation of the Virginia statute requiring utilities to provide uniform rates to similarly-situated customers.” Further, the Commission is currently evaluating the impact of these systems on infrastructure costs and additional information and analysis on net metering in Virginia will be available in the near future.
MDV-SEIA, representing the regional solar industry, will ask the Virginia State Corporation Commission to deny Dominion’s rate proposal. MDV-SEIA provides compelling arguments in its testimony that Dominion’s rates would discourage the development of and investment in PV systems. To address this issue, the organization suggests that, as required by law, Dominion perform a ‘cost-of-service’ study before proposing any standby rates. The hearing, to be held on November 3, will allow the Commission to weigh both the utility’s proposal and the solar industry’s opposition.
MDV-SEIA is a regional chapter of the national trade association for solar energy, the Solar Energy Industries Association. MDV-SEIA represents the interests of photovoltaic and solar thermal equipment manufacturers, installers, distributors and component suppliers serving Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. Its members design, sell, integrate, install, maintain and finance solar energy equipment for residential, commercial and institutional customers throughout the region. Among our ranks are the accountants, attorneys, builders, architects, electricians, plumbers, and consultants that support the solar industries.