Pubic opinion has impacted the current West Virginia legislative session. Representatives received 450 emails within a 24-hour period regarding the repeal of a 2009 law. Jefferson County residents sent a majority of those concerned messages.
A Thursday vote was expected on House Bill 2001, the repeal of the Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, but not without amending it to keep what the public asked for.
Jefferson County Delegate Stephen Skinner (D) says the House Judiciary Committee removed from the bill what would have barred net metering of solar energy, and many say would have condemned the use of solar for places like Shepherdstown’s Presbyterian Church.
Net metering allows those who use solar (or wind) energy to receive a credit on their utility bill for the amount that the alternative energy saved the customer. It allows for a lower utility bill because of the solar panels.
Solar Holler is a Shepherdstown company that installs solar panel systems. Its founder, Dan Conant, is confident companies like his are safe.
“It’s about self-sufficiency which is a West Virginia value,” he said.
Solar Holler’s latest project came up and running at the beginning of January at the Harper’s Ferry Public Library. Conant says if the utility credit went away, clients of solar might as well.
“The investments were made with net metering in mind. It wouldn’t be fair to remove that,” he commented.
The State Senate sent their form of the repeal to the House on Jan. 19. Senator Herb Snyder (D-Jefferson) helped write the amendment that kept alive the public’s outcry for solar credit.
He said, “There was a general consensus. I think we’ve figured it out.”
Legislators are expected to write solar net metering into its own sectional code of the West Virginia state law.