‘Solar Freedom’ legislation fails to escape Senate Committee

January 29, 2019

A sweeping solar energy reform bill dubbed “Solar Freedom” failed to advance out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on January 29.

SB 1456 (McClellan) sought to achieve eight key reforms in renewable energy policy in a broad effort to remove barriers and create a stronger market for distributed solar energy.

The eight reforms were:

    1. Allowing local government entities to install solar installations of up to 5 MW on government-owned property and use the electricity for schools or other government-owned buildings located on nearby property, even if not contiguous.
    2. Clarifying that third-party financing using power purchase agreements (PPAs) is legal statewide for all customer classes. ​
    3. Allowing all customers to attribute output from a single solar array to multiple meters on the same or adjacent property of the same customer. ​Applies to all net-metered customers. Governments get the added benefitof meter aggregation on non-contiguous sites.
    4. Removing the restriction on customers installing a net-metered solar installation larger than required to meet their previous 12 months’ demand. ​Applies to all net-metered customers.
    5. Allowing the owner of a multi-family residential building to install a solar installation on the building or surrounding property and sell the electricity to tenants
    6. Raising the size cap for net metered non-residential solar installations from 1 megawatt to 2 megawatt. ​
    7. Lifting the 1 percent cap on the total amount of solar that can be net metered in a utility territory.
    8. Remove standby charges on residential installations sized between 10-20 kilowatt. ​

After substantial debate and discussion, SB 1456 was passed by indefinitely by a 10-3 vote.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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