RD330 - Annual Report on Solar Energy Distributed Generation Programs
Chapter 771 of the 2011 Virginia Acts of Assembly ("Chapter 771") directs the State Corporation Commission ("Commission") to consider for approval petitions filed by a utility to construct and operate distributed solar generation facilities and to offer special tariffs to facilitate customer-owned distributed solar generation. Pursuant to Chapter 771, the Commission has received and approved two such applications from Virginia Electric and Power Company d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power ("DVP" or the "Company"). These applications are:
(i) An application to construct and operate distributed solar generation facilities (called the Solar Partnership Program (the "Partnership Program"));(*1) and
(ii) An application for approval of tariffs designed to facilitate customer-owned distributed solar generation as an alternative to net metering (called the Solar Purchase Program (the "Purchase Program")).(*2)
The Commission also has approved DVP's filing pursuant to § 56-234 B of the Code for a pilot and experimental rate, Rider DCS, to enable customer purchases of distributed solar generation from facilities that are part of the Partnership Program.(*3) This report also discusses the Third-Party PPA Pilot Program that the Commission conducts pursuant to Chapter 382 of the 2013 Virginia Acts of Assembly ("Chapter 382").(*4) A brief update on each of these initiatives is provided below.
DVP Partnership Program
The Partnership Program is a demonstration program in which DVP is authorized to construct and operate up to 30 megawatts ("MW") of company-owned solar distributed generation ("DO") facilities under a blanket certificate of public convenience and necessity ("CPCN") on leased commercial customer property and in community settings. This demonstration program is intended to study the benefits and impacts of solar DO on targeted distribution circuits. According to the Company's annual report provided to the Commission ("2016 Company Report"),(*5) the Partnership Program currently has eight operational facilities and two additional projects under construction that are expected to be operational before year-end 2016. (See chart on page 5.) The cumulative capacity of the ten facilities total 8,418 kW direct current ("DC"), or 6,670 kW alternating current ("AC"), connected to the electric grid. DVP projects that the expected cumulative capital costs of these ten projects will be approximately $20.9 million by year-end 2016.
In addition to site development, the Partnership Program also includes an educational component that will enable local personnel to provide secondary and post-secondary instruction on solar powered systems. DVP also is using this program to gather information that should enable the Company to refine its electrical distribution planning model and forecast future solar generation impacts on certain areas of DVP's circuitry and distribution system.
DVP Purchase Program
The Purchase Program is a demonstration program that began June 20, 2013, and consists of a special tariff under which the Company will purchase no more than 3 MW of energy output from customer-owned distributed solar generation installations. The Purchase Program is designed to facilitate customer-owned distributed solar generation facilities and to offer an alternative to net energy metering by permitting the purchase of 100% of the energy output, including all environmental attributes associated with renewable energy certificates ("RECs") from qualifying solar customer generators. Specifically, this program permits eligible customers to purchase all of their electricity from DVP on their current rate schedule and to sell all of their solar generation to the Company under the proposed special tariff. Under this program, customers install and own solar distributed generation systems and sell that power back to DVP along with associated RECs at a rate of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour ("¢/kWh"). According to the 2016 Company Report, the Purchase Program continues to experience strong interest and as of June 30, 2016, 123 customer installations have been completed, with another 19 under construction, totaling 1,965.2 kilowatts ("kW"). (See chart on page 10.)
On January 20, 2015, DVP filed an application for approval of the Dominion Community 'Solar Pilot ("DCS Pilot") and experimental rate, designated Rider DCS, to enable voluntary customer purchases of 100 kWh blocks of solar generation from a company-owned, 2 MW DC solar DG facility sited in Virginia. This facility would be constructed under the blanket CPCN that the Company received when the Commission approved the Partnership Program. According to the Company, the DCS Pilot would enable DVP to assess the level of interest of customers willing to support the development of solar DG but may not be able or willing to install solar generation facilities on their own properties. On August 7, 2015, the Commission approved the Company's application for the DCS Pilot and Rider DCS, as modified by the provisions of a Stipulation and Recommendation. To date, the DCS Pilot and its experimental rate, Rider DCS, are not yet available to customers, as the facilities are not completed.
Pursuant to Chapter 382, the Commission conducts a pilot program within the certificated service territory of DVP. Under the pilot program, a person that owns or operates a solar-powered or wind-powered electric generation facility with a capacity between 50 kW and 1 MW that is located on the premises owned or leased by an eligible customer-generator will be allowed to sell the electricity generated from such facility exclusively to such eligible customer-generator under a power purchase agreement ("PPA"). The PPA may provide third-party financing of the costs of the renewable generation facility. The pilot program limitation of 50 MW includes participation among jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional customers, and the minimum size requirement does not apply to certain non-profit entities. Pursuant to Chapter 382, guidelines governing the pilot program, referred to as the Third-Party PP A Pilot Program, were established by the Commission on November 14, 2013. (For information on program participation, see page 12.)
(*1) Application of Virginia Electric and Power Company For approval of a Community Solar Power Program and for certification of proposed distributed solar generation facilities pursuant to Chapter 771 of the 2011 Virginia Acts of Assembly and§§ 56-46.1 and 56-580 D of the Code of Virginia, Case No. PUE-2011-00117, 2012 S.C.C. Ann. Rept. 328, Order (Nov. 28, 2012).
(*2) Application of Virginia Electric and Power Company For approval of a special tariff to facilitate customer-owned distributed solar generation pursuant to Chapter 771 of the 2011 Virginia Acts of Assembly, Case No. PUE-2012-00064, 2013 S.C.C. Ann. Rept. 269, Order (Mar. 22, 2013).
(*3) Application of Virginia Electric and Power Company For approval of a pilot and experimental rate, designated Rider DCS, to enable customer purchases of distributed solar generation pursuant to § 56-234 B of the Code of Virginia, Case No. PUE-2015-00005, 2015 S.C.C. Ann. Rept. 268, Final Order (Aug. 7, 2015).
(*4) Commonwealth of Virginia, ex rel. State Corporation Commission, Concerning the establishment of a renewable energy pilot program for third party power purchase agreements, Case No. PUE-2013-00045, 2013 S.C.C. Ann. Rept. 405, Order Establishing Guidelines (Nov. 14, 2013).
(*5) DVP's recent Annual Report was submitted to the Commission on September 1, 2016, and may be seen in its entirety at: http://www.scc.virginia.gov/docketsearch/DOCS/3%40p701!.PDF