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Letters to the editor for Nov. 8, 2021
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Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor for Nov. 8, 2021

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Support distributed solar

To avoid worse effects of climate change, it’s important for society to shift over to renewable energy sources like solar.

Distributed solar is a way to expand equitable access to solar across Virginia for people, businesses, and organizations that can’t install solar on their own buildings to reduce customer electricity bills, support economic development, and support clean energy industry job growth in the region.

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 (SB629/HB1634) to create shared solar programs in Virginia. These programs are important to provide fair customer access to solar regardless of income level, building ownership, condition, or shading. Shared solar also creates jobs in the areas where the programs are available, and helps attract new businesses interested in being solar-powered.

Current law allows only Dominion customers to purchase solar power via subscription to a shared solar facility. The subscriber receives a bill credit for the proportional output of the shared solar facility attributable to the subscriber.

The Shared Solar Access for SWVA Act (Senator Edwards) would permit customers of Appalachian Power and Old Dominion Power to access the same program as Dominion customers. The bill includes all three investor-owned utilities in Virginia, rather than just Dominion.

Appalachian Power and Dominion Energy utilities are allowed to offer “community solar” pilot projects, but four years after the programs were created by the General Assembly, neither utility has opened up these program options to customers, and no projects have been built.

Currently, shared solar owned by private developers is the best option for ensuring local community access to shared solar. Interested residents and local businesses can be a driving force to make projects happen in their communities, and opening up project development to a competitive bidding process means customers are getting the best price possible for their project.

We need to encourage our legislators to support the Shared Solar Access for SWVA Act to broaden access to solar for people, and in service to the health of our environment and economy. Visit swvasolar.org/shared-solar/ for ways to support this initiative, including writing a quick letter to your legislator.

ELLEN ATKINSON

Lynchburg

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