Solar panels take root in field

Installation of solar panels continues near Remington. Dominion Virginia Power will convert sun power into electricity.

Times Staff Photo/James Ivancic

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday signed 11 bipartisan bills passed by the General Assembly earlier this year that promote the use of solar and other renewable energy options and aim to reduce energy consumption across the commonwealth. 

One of the bills was introduced by 18th District Delegate Michael J. Webert, who represents part of Fauquier County. The bill allows localities to establish green development zones where businesses can receive special taxing and zoning treatment for energy efficient buildings and facilities or manufacture products that are beneficial to the environment. 

“Giving localities the flexibility to enhance their economic growth with green businesses and buildings in green development zones was truly an idea that came from the ground up,” Webert said in a news release. “The Fauquier Economic Development team brought forth the idea, and I am excited that the County of Fauquier is poised to be one of the first counties to take advantage of this legislation.”

The 18th District also includes Culpeper and Warren counties and all of Rappahannock County.

“It is clear that Virginia is moving in the right direction, especially with the recent announcement of record growth in our solar industry, but there is still work to do,” McAuliffe said Monday.

Revenue in the clean energy sector increased from $500 million to $2 billion since 2014. It’s a sector that’s creating jobs for Virginians, according to Todd Haymore, secretary of commerce and trade.

Joined by clean energy industry stakeholders and several bill patrons, McAuliffe signed the following legislation into law at the ceremonial bill signing today at the Executive Mansion:

SB 1393 – 7th District Sen. Frank Wagner – Authorizes Community Solar Pilot Programs

SB 1393 creates a path for the creation of community solar programs in the service territories of Appalachian Power Company (ApCo), Dominion, and the Electric Cooperatives. Each utility will develop its own territory-specific program that allows citizens and businesses the ability to “subscribe” to receive electricity generated by a small centrally-located solar generation system. 

SB 990 – 16th District Sen. Rosalyn Dance (and 48th District Delegate Rip Sullivan) – Energy Efficiency Goal Progress Report Requirement

SB 990 requires the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to report annually the progress the state is making toward achieving the codified voluntary goal of reducing energy consumption in Virginia by 10 percent by 2022 from 2007 levels. 

SB 1258 – 30th District Sen. Adam Ebbin - Changes the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority to the Virginia Solar Energy and Battery Storage Development Authority

SB1258 expands the mission of the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority to include the promotion and development of battery storage technology.  The bill increases the composition of the Authority by four seats.  

SB 1394/HB 2303 – 7th District Sen. Frank Wagner and 10th District Delegate Randy Minchew – Establishes Small Agricultural Generators Program

SB 1394 and HB 2303 are identical bills that create a new framework for the generation of renewable energy at agricultural facilities and how that energy can be sold to utilities.  This bill was put forward by the so-called “Rubin Group.”

SB 1395 – 7th District Sen. Frank Wagner – Size of projects eligible for Permit by Rule

SB 1395 increases the allowable maximum size of renewable projects to be eligible to be permitted through the Permit by Rule (PBR) process from 100MW to 125MW.  It also exempts projects that are being built for use by a single customer of a utility from having to apply for and receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the SCC. This bill was put forward by the so-called “Rubin Group.”

HB 1565 – 18th District Delegate Michael Webert – Local Option to Create Green Development Zones

HB 1565 allows localities to establish “green development zones” where businesses can receive special taxing and zoning treatment for buildings and facilities that are determined to be energy efficient or the manufacturing of products that are beneficial to the environment. 

HB1712 – 10th District Delegate Randy Minchew - Energy Performance Contracting

HB 1712 allows for the continued use by state agencies and localities of Energy Performance Contracting as a financing tool to reduce energy consumption and increase energy savings through building and facilities improvements.

HB 1760/SB 1418 – 1st District Delegate Terry Kilgore and 38th District Sen. Ben Chafin - Pump Storage Electric Generation Facilities in the Public Interest

HB 1769 and SB 1418 are identical bills that place pump storage electric generation facilities in the public interest.  This makes it easier for new pump storage projects to receive by the SCC.

HB2390 – 1st District Delegate Terry Kilgore – Power Purchase Pilot Program creation in Southwest Virginia

HB 2390 establishes a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) pilot program in the service territory of Appalachian Power Company (ApCo).  Permitted participants in the pilot are private colleges and universities located within the ApCo territory.  

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