- Appalachian Power will get 6% of its electricity from renewable sources within the next 15 years, but critics say the utility should be moving faster and investing more heavily in solar energy, WVTF.org reports.
- The utility said it is looking to efficiency and demand side management before investing in solar, and will see coal power reduced to about 60% of its supply under the 15-year plan.
- But some Virginia solar advocates say it appears the utility capped renewable investment at an "artificially low level," and want more focus on green energy's ability to attract investment and jobs.
Is Appalachian Power moving fast enough to bring renewable energy to Virginia? That's the question posed by critics, who say there is plenty of potential for more solar.
Critics say 6% renewables is less than what neighboring states have developed. Hannah Wiegard, a coordinator with Appalachian Voices, told WVTF “there is a sense that we get from looking at the plan that Appalachian Power has capped its investments in solar at an artificially low level.”
A utility spokesman countered that the company is working to reduce its coal burn, and is looking to efficiency and demand management before investing in more expensive renewable energy.
“It's not an easy thing for us to buy, sell, purchase, build generation over a short period of time. There’s property purchases, there are regulatory filings and all of that," said John Sheppelwich. "So what were’ doing right now is taking those steps that we need to take to star increasing the diversity of our energy portfolio and changing it up. We know that is what’s going to happen and that is what’s coming.”
According to the SCC's order establishing the fuel proceeding, Appalachian Power believes its proposal would decrease the monthly bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kWh of electricity by $3.67, or approximately 3.2%. The changes would be effective October 1, 2015, and would further decrease it by $2.85, or 2.6%, effective February 1, 2016.
The deadline for written comment on the utility's supply plan has passed, but one more public meeting will be held next week at the Virginia State Corporation Commission's headquarters.