WV Legislature passes solar power purchase agreements bill

The West Virginia Legislature passed a bill designed to encourage private customers to invest in solar energy by exempting solar energy purchase agreements from the State Public Service Commission’s jurisdiction.

On Friday night, the Delegate House approved minor adjustments made to the legislation by the state Senate.

House Bill 3310, which specifies solar power plants located on and designed to meet only the electrical needs of an electrical customer’s premises, does not constitute a public service, nor is production subject to a power purchase agreement with the electrical retail customer.

Under a power purchase agreement, a developer arranges the design, permit, financing and installation of a solar energy system on the customer’s property at little or no cost.

The customer buys the system’s electrical power from the solar service provider for a predetermined period at a fixed interest rate, usually lower than the local utility’s retail price, while the solar service provider receives tax credits and revenue from the sale of electricity.

The bill’s exemption for power purchase agreements from the state’s public service commission’s jurisdiction will be conditional. A prerequisite will be that the sum of all power purchase agreements and grid measurement schemes for any tool does not exceed a ceiling of 3% of the tool’s total customer peak demand in the state the year before.

The ceiling already exists for grid metering, a billing mechanism that credits customers who generate their own electricity from solar energy to return the electricity they do not use back to the grid.

Another condition sets individual customer limits for generators on site, so that solar power plants only meet the electrical needs of the electrical customer’s premises, and do not exceed 25 kilowatts for private customers, 500 kilowatts for commercial customers and 2000 kilowatts for industrial customers.

Now Mike Tony at mtony@hdmediallc.com, 304-348-1236 or follow @Mike__Tony on Twitter.