Dominion Virginia Power pitches new rate to encourage solar power

The demonstration project would be limited to 3 MW total, or 3,000 kW

Richmond, Va., May 17, 2012 — Dominion Virginia Power took a second step to add more of the sun's energy to its electricity grid by proposing a new rate that includes a premium to encourage customers to install solar panels and sell the electricity to the company.

In a filing with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, the company is seeking permission to buy solar-generated electricity from residential and small commercial customers at 15 cents per kWh for a five-year demonstration period. The demonstration project would be limited to 3 MW total, or 3,000 kW. The typical residential solar installation in the company's Virginia service area is 4 kW.

The proposed rate is designed to pay a premium to customers who generate electricity with solar power to defray installation costs. The premiums would come from the contributions that Dominion Green Power customers make to support the production and development of renewable energy.

About 14,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers participate in the company's Green Power program. They pay a slightly higher rate so that either all or a portion of their electricity is offset by certified green power sources. The proposed solar rate program will match the Dominion Green Power customers with customers who choose to generate solar energy on their property and sell the electricity to Dominion.

The company had multiple meetings with interested parties to design the proposed solar rate with pricing and terms to attract participation. Eligible customers will purchase all of their electricity from the company and sell all of their solar-generated electricity to the company.

The proposed fixed rate also could be an alternative to the company's existing "net metering" program where customers offset their consumption with self-generated renewable energy. About 650 customers participate in the net metering program today.

The company took the first step in adding more solar to its fuel mix in October when it asked the SCC for approval of a community solar power program to lease rooftops of commercial businesses and public facilities for up to 30 MW of solar panels. That program would generate enough electricity to power about 6,000 homes during peak daylight hours. The SCC has scheduled a hearing on the proposal for September.

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