Appalachian Power Allowed to Withdraw Solar Program, Avoiding Decision on Solar Financing

Virginians Continue to Need Clarity on Legality of Solar Financing Options

Charlottesville, VA—Yesterday the Virginia State Corporation Commission approved Appalachian Power Company’s request to withdraw its application for an experimental renewable energy program. The withdrawal means that the Commission will not issue a ruling in this proceeding on the legality of solar power purchase agreements in Virginia. Appalachian Power made its request shortly after a Hearing Officer filed a report recommending that the Commission deny the program and agreeing with environmental intervenors that customers in Virginia can legally enter into solar financing arrangements with third party solar companies, negating the need for Appalachian Power’s program.

In response to this decision, the Southern Environmental Law Center released the following statement:

“The Hearing Officer’s opinion confirmed what we have long argued: that Virginians have the right under state law to enter into financing arrangements that are making rooftop solar more affordable than ever,” said Will Cleveland from the Southern Environmental Law Center. “While Appalachian Power managed to duck a decision from the Commission in this proceeding, we are determined to pursue all possible avenues to finally resolve this important legal issue.”

“Appalachian Power’s eleventh hour motion only hurts its customers who are clamoring for more renewable energy options but need common sense financing that allows them to go solar without shouldering the upfront costs of purchasing a solar system.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center represented Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club in the proceeding.

Appalachian Power filed its original application in April 2015 for an experimental renewable energy program, known as Rider RGP. This voluntarily program was criticized by many intervenors, including environmental groups, for failing to provide benefits to participants. Additionally, Appalachian Power asserted the need for its program based on its view that other solar financing tools – including power purchase agreements – are currently unlawful in Virginia. To date, at least 25 states have clarified the ability of customers to enter into solar power purchase agreements.

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About the Southern Environmental Law Center:

The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

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