The Virginia State Corporation Commission will hold a hearing on Nov. 3 on the standby rates proposed by electric utility Dominion in July of this year. The hearing is being held at the request of MDV-SEIA, the local regional chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly allows utilities to collect standby charges from owners of residential solar generation systems ranging from 10 kW to 20 kW. However, the law only allows the utility to assess charges ‘on electrical generating facility that exceeds 10 kW,’ and Dominion can only set the charges to ‘recover infrastructure costs that are properly associated with serving’ these systems.
‘The company's standby rates as proposed are inherently flawed and can be punitive for residential customers using or considering the use of a photovoltaic solar system,’ Francis Hodsoll, MDV-SEIA's executive director, 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, according to the organization, Dominion has not provided sufficient data or a proven methodology to show that its proposed rates accurately represent its infrastructure costs caused by 10 kW-to-20 kW solar energy systems.
Second, and more broadly, solar photovoltaic systems actually reduce a utility's infrastructure costs. Dominion fails to consider the benefits of distributed generation, which offset the distribution infrastructure costs, MDV-SEIA says.
Consequently, MDV-SEIA will ask the Virginia State Corporation Commission to deny Dominion's rate proposal.