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Va. regulators OK Appalachian Power voluntary renewable energy rider

Virginia regulators approved Appalachian Power Co.'s third attempt to establish a voluntary rider under which its customers can pay to receive electricity "provided 100[%] from renewable energy."

The State Corporation Commission on Jan. 7 issued an order that allows the American Electric Power Co. Inc. utility to charge participating customers a special tariff, known as Rider WWS, in exchange for providing all of their energy and capacity from a portfolio of renewable resources owned or contracted by the company.

Appalachian Power has told state regulators the available energy and capacity will include the purchased output from the approximately 120-MW Bluff Point Wind Farm in Indiana and its contracted generation from the planned 15-MW Depot Solar Center in Virginia. The portfolio of available resources also will include the Buck Hydro, Byllesby 2, Claytor, Leesville, London, Marmet, Niagara, Winfield and Gauley River Hydro (Summersville) hydroelectric plants, as well as the Camp Grove Wind Farm, Fowler Ridge Wind Farm, Beech Ridge Wind Farm and Grand Ridge Wind Energy Center.

The SCC approval follows two previous unsuccessful attempts by Appalachian Power to establish a voluntary renewable energy rider.

The commission in September 2017 denied Appalachian Power's April 2016 application for a renewable energy rider based on concerns over the proposed pricing design and cost recovery. (SCC docket PUE-2016-00051)

In October 2016, state regulators allowed Appalachian Power to withdraw a complex experimental rider designed to permit nonresidential customers to indirectly purchase renewable energy from a third party. (Case No. PUE-2015-00040)

The commission in a news release said the approved rider aligns with state statute by ensuring participating customers are "receiving a product that is provided 100 percent from renewable energy."

In addition, the proposal provides a rate that is "reasonable for customers who voluntarily elect such service" and "includes safeguards that hold harmless customers who choose not to participate."

A typical residential customer that uses 1,000 kWh of electricity per month is expected to pay an additional $4.25 to participate in the program. A "balancing charge" of about $68 per month for the typical residential customer will be paid by participants and serve as a credit to various generation components of standard rates.

In order to protect customers that do participate in the voluntary program, Appalachian Power indicated it will not require these customers to enter into contracts, but they must give 30 days' notice to terminate service.

(SCC docket PUR-2017-00179)