Virginia Enacts Law Expanding Solar for Customers of Electric Cooperatives

Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation on March 21 that makes changes to the net energy metering program for customers of electric cooperatives. The bill allows cooperatives to raise the net metering cap to seven percent of the system peak, with an increase allocated among residential, nonresidential, and not-for-profit and non-jurisdictional customers. (HB 2547)

The legislation increases the overall cap to three percent for residential, four percent for not-for-profit and non-jurisdictional, and two percent for non-residential customers, from the prior level of one percent. Residential customers can install enough solar to meet up to 125 percent of the expected annual consumption based on the previous year’s demand.

The bill legalizes “third-party partial requirements” power purchase contracts for retail customers and non-jurisdictional customers that are exempt from federal income taxation, with a self-certification requirement. Electric cooperatives are authorized to adopt a new rate schedule, allowing customers who interconnected before the transition date to continue under current terms until July 1, 2039. The bill removes standby charges after the transition date and allows cooperatives to start imposing demand charges implemented over a five-year period.