As the cost of installing rooftop solar panels has dramatically fallen in recent years, more West Virginia communities, businesses, and tax-exempt institutions (like schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, and local governments) want to go solar.
Unfortunately, current state law doesn’t allow power purchase agreements (PPAs). PPAs are a widely used financing mechanism for solar projects. They are a contract between a third-party developer to install, own, and operate a solar array on a customer’s property, and the customer who agrees to purchase electricity produced by the array at a fixed rate. This fixed rate is typically lower than what the customer pays to the local utility company. These contracts are set for a specific time-period, usually 15 years. PPAs are legal in 26 states, including Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Georgia.
PPAs are especially important because they enable tax-exempt institutions to take advantage of the federal solar tax credit. The system’s owner benefits from the tax credit and can pass those savings along to the customer through a PPA.
Solar PPAs would benefit West Virginia communities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations by:
- Enabling solar installation with zero upfront cost
- Lowering electric bills from day one
- Locking in affordable long-term electricity rates
- Avoiding utility rate increases
- Stabilizing monthly budget expenditures
In addition, solar PPAs will expand economic development, create good local jobs, and attract employers to locate and invest in West Virginia.
Moving solar forward in West Virginia
The good news is that there is growing support to legalize solar PPAs in West Virginia. The state’s monopoly utilities oppose this effort, so it’s critically important for solar supporters to tell their state legislators to support this policy. It’s time for West Virginia to move solar forward!