Removal of Utility Roadblocks to Solar
While solar on schools is growing exponentially across Virginia, Southwest Virginia has been unfairly excluded from this growth due to limits on solar power by Appalachian Power. School districts and local governments in the region had been placing solar projects on hold until a new agreement with the utility could be negotiated. Thanks to the dedicated advocacy of local governments and schools, Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia, and our partners in Virginia, the burdensome utility barriers to solar have now been removed.
In March 2021, legislation approved unanimously by the General Assembly opened up access to needed solar financing for schools and municipalities in Southwest Virginia. School districts and local governments in Appalachian Power territory needed this policy in order to affirm that they are able to utilize third-party power purchase agreements, a financing mechanism that school districts elsewhere in the state have already been leveraging to make solar more accessible and remove upfront capital costs.
In June 2021, Appalachian Power offered an agreement to the public authorities that raises the limits on net metering, allows the use of power purchase agreements, and enables stalled solar projects to finally move forward.
We applaud these communities who spoke up to expand their access to solar energy and can now move forward with solar projects that will reduce electric bills, save taxpayer dollars, and support local energy jobs.
Charging Up Solar in Southwest Virginia
With longstanding utility barriers removed, schools in Southwest Virginia now have the opportunity to reap the benefits of solar that other schools around the state have been enjoying. We provide resources to help schools that are just getting started. Our How-To Guide can walk you through the process of bringing solar to your school community. You can explore our Help Desk to find a wealth of resources and articles to answer frequently asked questions, or you can ask us our team a question directly. Dive in and get started!
Learn more about the campaign
- “Expanding Access to Solar on Public Buildings in Southwest Virginia”: Issue summary created by Generation180, Appalachian Voices, and Solar United Neighbors. (Last Updated: 12/2020)
- “Large-Scale Solar Development: A Playbook for Southwest Virginia”: Introductory guide for local governments to facilitate large-scale solar projects in Southwest Virginia created by The Solar Workgroup and the Solar Foundation. (Last Updated: 12/2020)
- Energy News Network: “Contract deal lifts Virginia utility’s cap on public entities’ solar aspirations” – June 15, 2021
- Solar Power World: “Virginia solar advocates lobby to open net metering and PPAs to schools, municipalities in APCO territory” – June 9, 2021
- Roanoke Times: “Letter: Net metering is key to Appalachian Power Public Authority contract” – April 5, 2021
- Power for the People VA: “It’s Time for APCo to Stop Throttling Solar on Schools and Governments” – February 5, 2021
- Virginia Mercury: “Law aiming to help schools and local governments access solar sails through House” – January 26, 2021
- Appalachian Voices Press Release: “Southwest Virginia schools, local governments urge fair access to solar” – October 15, 2020
- Virginia Mercury: “Lawmakers expanded school districts’ ability to go solar. But in Southwest Virginia, a utility contract is getting in the way.” – September 29, 2020
- Broken Ground Podcast, Episode: “Riding the solar coaster”, Interview with solar advocates at Dickenson County Public Schools
“Our local governments and schools should be able to benefit from the less expensive solar energy and save taxpayer dollars on electricity bills.”
-Senator John Edwards, Patron of SB 1420