Too solar friendly?
It can cost you money
Daily, our commonwealth politicians promote enhancing Virginia’s renewable energy movement. Yet Virginia remains in the lowest tier of solar-friendly states. Under pressure from environmentally concerned Massachusetts and Delaware friends, we installed solar panels on our home to go green, a token gesture for renewable energy. The federal government and progressive states offer a tax credit incentive program, yet Virginia lags, even as our news coverage raves about our progress. We installed excessive production knowingly forfeiting this to Dominion Energy. Our goal was to become a zero commercial electricity consumer with break-even payback analysis of 10 to 12 years. Triumphantly, last November we went solar.
Our vendor assured us that it would make all arrangements for system design and capacity, thus we relied upon its guidance through the complex planning stage. Upon receipt of our monthly billings, we became aware of a little-known idiosyncrasy in our legislative support of our energy monopoly.
Dominion is empowered to a net meter standby charge to any private solar energy system larger than 15 kilowatts. We modestly exceed this arbitrary hurdle even though we are projected to use less than production. We now are being charged a monthly fee of $30, while we will be donating unused energy to Dominion. Hardly an incentive.
In short, our efforts to minimize our carbon footprint and support green energy will be financially penalized. The greenest component of this formula is the money that we will pay Dominion. It appears that our only corrective solution will be to remove the excess panels — economically sound, but a poor option. It is time for our commonwealth to move forward and truly incentivize private citizens to go solar — not to punish them.
W. Wayne Surles, Ph.D.