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Big solar project is approved if power companies can prove they have customers lined up

West Virginia’s Public Service Commission has conditionally approved a $102 million solar energy proposal across five counties, but commissioners want assurances that energy customers are truly lined up to limit costs for regular ratepayers, and that’s why learning how do solar panels work for your home is great for  this project. You may visit a site like to know more information about solar energy.

“The Commission notes that there are numerous factors that are putting significant upward pressure on West Virginia rates,” wrote members of the Public Service Commission. “In evaluating a rate increment for this project or any other earmarked project, the commission must take into consideration the totality of the rate increases that are imposed on West Virginia customers.”

The project was prompted and invited by a 2020 legislative initiative opening up West Virginia to more solar production to meet the needs of companies that want solar in their energy portfolios.

The PSC issued an order Thursday to approve the solar energy construction project by Monongalia Power and the Potomac Edison Company.

Charlotte Lane

PSC Chairwoman Charlotte Lane said the proposal represents steps toward energy diversification in West Virginia, but she said ratepayers deserve assurances that they won’t face spiking bills.

“We are saying ‘OK, get us the contracts and then we can decide whether or not the resulting rates will be reasonable,'” Lane said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”

The 50-megawatt capacity project encompasses five locations in Monongalia, Tucker, Berkeley, Brooke and Marion counties. The initial timetable is staggered through 2025, but could be accelerated because of demand.

The companies provided 13 documents demonstrating interest from customers, although the documents were not binding.

The power companies propose recovering the costs of the project through a renewable electricity surcharge. But members of the Public Service Commission remained concerned about cost to regular ratepayers.

“The proposed project will produce energy that may be more expensive than other types of energy generated by or available to Mon Power/PE,” commissioners wrote in their order.

“If the costs of this generation are not covered by customers seeking to use some solar energy (subscribers), then the costs will be subsidized by all ratepayers of the companies.”

The commission found that the companies should pursue binding commitments of one to five years from customers interested in committing, as well as shorter terms such as month-to-month. Commissioners said such commitments should amount to 85 percent for the solar energy for each facility.

“Long-term contracts, if obtained, could ensure some stability in the financing of the project and aid the companies in paying for the project from those who actually desire the solar generation,” commissioners wrote.

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