Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are one step that West Virginia lawmakers can take this session to encourage competition, growth, and development in our rapidly changing energy system, write Tom Loehr, president of Collegiate Solar Energy, and Autumn Long, program director of Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia in a Letter to the Editor to the Daily Mail WV Opinion page of the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Jan. 15, 2019.
Calling them an “excellent opportunity for the state,” Scott Rogers, mayor of Charles Town, has come out in support of third-party power purchase agreements, and he is advocating for the 2019 state Legislature to legalize their use.
EnergyFreedomWV.org explains that PPAs allow a third-party developer to install, own and operate energy-generating equipment such as a windmill or solar panels on a customer’s property with the customer’s consent. The customer can then purchase the electric output at an agreed upon fixed rate for a predetermined period of time, usually 15-25 years.
Rogers said this system is a way to diversify state energy markets, and he said it would reduce the impact of what he calls “boom and bust” cycles associated with the current utility rates.
“The time is now for the people to encourage and challenge their lawmakers to move forward with this innovative policy option.”
Thanks, Mayor Rogers, for supporting the #PPAs4WV campaign and advocating for energy freedom in West Virginia.
By Dan Heyman of Public News Service-WV
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Clean-energy advocates are looking to the Legislature for solar-energy rules they say could reform West Virginia's grid for consumers, big and small.
West Virginia doesn't allow Power Purchase Agreements – where a third party invests the big up-front costs of installing solar power, then charges the customer for the electricity. Autumn Long, program director with Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia, says more than half the businesses and almost all the schools, churches and hospitals that have "gone solar" nationally have taken that route.
She says it would also help attract new businesses committed to renewables.
"Seeking to source 100 percent of their power from renewable sources,” says Long. “So, if West Virginia doesn't start building out that renewable infrastructure to offer these companies, we're going to get passed over."
Published Nov. 16, 2018
There are two main policies that states can adopt that incentivize solar installation. Most states have one or both, but according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory West Virginia and Kentucky have neither.
The first is called a third-party power purchase agreement, or PPA. That allows a private, third-party developer to install a solar system on your property and then sell you the power that that array produces at a fixed rate for typically 15 to 20 years.
Tax-exempt entities such as schools, churches and local governments especially benefit from PPAs, because they aren’t eligible for the 30 percent federal income tax credit. Beginning in 2020, the federal solar tax credit will begin ramping down.
“A power purchase agreement allows them to install solar with zero up-front cost, potentially lower their energy bills from day one, and it’s also a really popular way for commercial businesses to go solar on a larger scale than that business is potentially going to be able to invest in with their own capital up front,” said Autumn Long, program director of the nonprofit West Virginia Solar United Neighbors.
By Autumn Long, Program Director for Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia, a member of West Virginians For Energy Freedom’s coalition.
West Virginians will be left behind if our elected officials do not act quickly and assertively to create a policy environment that encourages growth, competition and diversification in this newly unfolding energy system. While neighboring states attract major investments, expand their tax bases and create thousands of new jobs in the renewable energy sector, our state offers little to encourage innovative entrepreneurship or entice large employers that increasingly demand access to renewable energy.
The good news is that our lawmakers can take specific steps to encourage renewable energy development and investment in West Virginia. Chief among them is legalizing solar Power Purchase Agreements, a popular solar financing method that is available in 26 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.