Introduced in House Passed House Introduced in Senate Passed Senate Became Law
01/07/2020     01/23/2020  

Distributed electric generation; community solar gardens.

Authorizes the establishment of community solar gardens, which are required to be owned by a subscriber organization that has at least 10 subscribers. Subscribers will receive credits on their utility bills from energy generated at the solar facility in proportion to the size of their subscription. The output and renewable energy credits from a solar garden shall be purchased by the utility in the form of net metering credits allocated to the subscribers. To the extent that a subscriber's net metering credit exceeds the subscriber's electric bill in any billing period, the credit will be applied against future bills. If the electricity output of the community solar garden is not fully subscribed, the utility is required to purchase the unsubscribed renewable energy at a rate equal to the utility's average hourly incremental cost of electricity supply over the immediately preceding calendar year.

Date Version PDF TXT
02/03/2020 Senate: Committee substitute printed 20107477D-S1 Open
01/07/2020 Senate: Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/20 20101887D Open



    (Proposed by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor
    on February 3, 2020)
    (Patron Prior to Substitute--Senator Surovell)
    A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 56-594.3, relating to electric utility regulation; shared solar programs.

    Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

    1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 56-594.3 as follows:

    56-594.3. Shared solar programs.

    A. As used in this section:

    "Applicable bill credit rate" means the dollar-per-kilowatt-hour rate used to calculate the subscribers bill credit. The applicable bill credit rate shall be such that the shared solar program results in robust project deployment and shared solar program access for all customer classes.

    "Bill credit" means the monetary value of the electricity, in kilowatt-hours, generated by the shared solar facility allocated to a subscriber to offset that subscribers electricity bill.

    "Low-income customer" means an individual or household with an income of not more than 80 percent of the area median income based on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

    "Low-income service organization" means a nonresidential customer of an investor-owned utility whose primary purpose is to serve low-income individuals and households.

    "Low-income shared solar facility" means a shared solar facility at least 50 percent of the capacity of which is subscribed by low-income customers or low-income service organizations.

    "Shared solar facility" means a facility that:

    1. Generates electricity by means of a solar photovoltaic device with a nameplate capacity rating that does not exceed 5,000 kilowatts of alternating current;

    2. Is located in the service territory of an investor-owned electric utility;

    3. Is connected to the electric distribution grid serving the Commonwealth;

    4. Has at least three subscribers;

    5. Has at least 40 percent of its capacity subscribed by customers with subscriptions of 25 kilowatts or less; and

    6. Is located on a single parcel of land.

    "Shared solar program" or "program" means the program created through the adoption of rules to allow for the development of shared solar facilities.

    "Subscriber" means a retail customer of a utility that (i) owns one or more subscriptions of a shared solar facility that is interconnected with the utility and (ii) receives service in the service territory of the same utility in whose service territory the shared solar facility is located.

    "Subscriber organization" means any for-profit or nonprofit entity that owns or operates one or more shared solar facilities. A subscriber organization shall not be considered a utility solely as a result of its ownership or operation of a shared solar facility.

    "Subscription" means a contract or other agreement between a subscriber and the owner of a shared solar facility. A subscription shall be sized such that the estimated bill credits do not exceed the subscribers average annual bill for the customer account to which the subscription is attributed.

    "Utility" means any investor-owned electric utility.

    B. The Commission shall establish by regulation a program that affords customers of investor-owned electric utilities the opportunity to participate in shared solar projects. Under its shared solar program, each investor owned utility shall provide a bill credit to a subscribers subsequent monthly electric bill for the proportional output of a shared solar facility attributable to that subscriber. The shared solar program shall be administered as follows:

    1. The value of the bill credit for the subscriber shall be calculated by multiplying the subscribers portion of the kilowatt-hour electricity production from the shared solar facility by the applicable bill credit rate for the subscriber. Any amount of the bill credit that exceeds the subscribers monthly bill shall be carried over and applied to the next months bill in perpetuity.

    2. The utility shall provide bill credits to a shared solar facilitys subscribers for not less than 25 years from the date the shared solar facility becomes commercially operational.

    3. The subscriber organization shall, on a monthly basis and in a standardized electronic format, provide to the investor-owned utility a subscriber list indicating the kilowatt-hours of generation attributable to each of the retail customers participating in a shared solar facility in accordance with the subscribers portion of the output of the shared solar facility.

    4. Subscriber lists may be updated monthly to reflect canceling subscribers and to add new subscribers. The investor-owned utility shall apply bill credits to subscriber bills within one billing cycle following the cycle during which the energy was generated by the shared solar facility.

    5. Each utility shall, on a monthly basis and in a standardized electronic format, provide to the subscriber organization a report indicating the total value of bill credits generated by the shared solar facility in the prior month, as well as the amount of the bill credit applied to each subscriber.

    6. A subscriber organization may accumulate bill credits in the event that all of the electricity generated by a shared solar facility is not allocated to subscribers in a given month. On an annual basis, the subscriber organization shall furnish to the utility allocation instructions for distributing excess bill credits to subscribers.

    7. All environmental attributes associated with a shared solar facility, including renewable energy certificates, shall be considered property of the subscriber organization. At the subscriber organizations discretion, such environmental attributes may be distributed to the subscribers, sold to load-serving entities with compliance obligations, or other buyers, accumulated, or retired.

    C. Each subscriber shall receive an applicable bill credit based on the subscribers customer class of residential, commercial, or industrial. Each classs applicable credit rate shall be calculated by the Commission annually by dividing revenues to the class by sales, measured in kilowatt-hours, to that class to yield a bill credit rate for the class ($/kWh). Upon the interconnection of a cumulative quantity of shared solar facilities with a nameplate capacity equivalent to 25 percent of peak electric demand for the year, the Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, may adopt, following public stakeholder review and comment, adjustments to the applicable bill credit rate calculation methodology that reflect an updated understanding of the transmission, distribution, and other benefits of shared solar projects that accrue to ratepayers. Any adjustments to the applicable bill credit rate shall apply to new projects that begin development after the issuance of an order by the Commission approving such revised bill credit rate methodology.

    D. The Commission shall establish by regulation a shared solar program that complies with the provisions of subsections B and C by January 1, 2021, and shall require each utility to file any tariffs, agreements, or forms necessary for implementation of the program. Any rule or utility implementation filings approved by the Commission shall:

    1. Reasonably allow for the creation and financing of shared solar facilities;

    2. Allow all customer classes to participate in the program and ensure participation opportunities for all customer classes;

    3. Create a stakeholder working group including low-income community representatives and community solar providers to facilitate low-income customer and low-income service organization participation in the program;

    4. Encourage public-private partnerships to further the Commonwealths clean energy and equity goals, such as state agency and affordable housing provider participation in the program as anchor customers of shared solar projects;

    5. Not remove a customer from its otherwise applicable customer class in order to participate in a shared solar facility;

    6. Reasonably allow for the transferability and portability of subscriptions, including allowing a subscriber to retain a subscription to a shared solar facility if the subscriber moves within the same utilitys service territory;

    7. Establish uniform standards, fees, and processes for the interconnection of shared solar facilities that allow the utility to recover reasonable interconnection costs for each shared solar facility;

    8. Adopt standardized consumer disclosure forms;

    9. Allow each utility the opportunity to recover reasonable costs of administering the program;

    10. Ensure nondiscriminatory and efficient requirements and utility procedures for interconnecting projects;

    11. Address the co-location of two or more shared solar facilities on a single parcel of land and provide guidelines for determining when two or more facilities are co-located;

    12. Include a program implementation schedule; and

    13. Prohibit credit checks as a means of establishing eligibility for residential customers to become subscribers.

    E. Within 180 days of finalization of the Commissions adoption of regulations for the shared solar program, utilities shall begin crediting subscriber accounts of each shared solar facility interconnected in its service territory.

    Picture Name From Date Type
    Scott A. Surovell D-Richmond Sponsor
    Date Branch Action
    01/23/2020 Senate Senate: Assigned C&L sub: Energy
    01/07/2020 Senate Senate: Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/20 20101887D
    01/07/2020 Senate Senate: Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor
    Congress - Bill Number Major Title
    Branch Vote Date Yes No Not Voting
    Date Bill Major Title
    Committee Name
    Subject Type