The solar industry is booming across the country and gaining momentum both in job creation and popularity among customers. This week Dominion Virginia Energy sought approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission to provide customers with a voluntary energy product sourced entirely from renewable power. If the SCC approves this product, it will solidify Dominion’s exclusive control over how and whether customers in their territory can access renewable power from offsite facilities.
While this move is a positive sign that Dominion recognizes the strong customer demand for renewable power, what remains in question is whether this “green tariff” request will fundamentally advance renewable energy in Virginia, or only knock out Dominion’s solar competition.
“What’s important here is that the SCC look behind this green tariff to ensure that Dominion is giving customers a true and fair rate,” said attorney Will Cleveland with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The last thing we want is an approved ‘green tariff’ that is so bad that no one signs up for it. If that happens, the only thing Dominion’s filing will achieve is to box out third parties from offering a competing product that customers might actually want..”
Under current Virginia law, third party companies can sell 100 percent renewable power directly to customers unless the customer’s utility offers a separate 100 percent renewable tariff like the one Dominion is now proposing. With Dominion’s service area covering roughly 2.5 million customers over approximately 30,000 square miles of Virginia, this could potentially eliminate choice in the solar market for large swaths of the Commonwealth.
The SCC has never approved a “green tariff” request.