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Va. regulators allow Appalachian Power to withdraw experimental solar rider

Over objections from environmental and clean energyadvocates seeking clarity on Virginia's solar financing options, the StateCorporation Commission approved Appalachian Power Co.'s request to withdraw itsexperimental renewable energy rider without weighing the legal issues in thecase.

Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of ,filed a motion Sept. 16 asking regulators to withdraw its application for the voluntary riderdesigned to allow nonresidential customers to indirectly purchase renewableenergy from a third party under a complex experimental tariff.

The SCC issued an order Oct. 6 dismissing the case. (CaseNo. PUE-2015-00040)

The action comes after the chief hearing examiner for theSCC in an Aug. 31 report recommended regulators the rider, noting that she was"most troubled by the pricing structure."

The proposal would have allowed a nonresidential customer topurchase nondispatched renewable energy, such as solar, generated by a facilityon or adjacent to the customer's property, but owned and operated by a thirdparty. Appalachian Power would purchase the energy and capacity produced by thefacility and sell it into the PJMInterconnection LLC market.

Participating customers' bills were to be broken down intothree parts: service charges under the standard schedule, charges equal toAppalachian Power's cost to purchase the generation output and a monthly creditbased on the market-based price of renewable energy sold into the market. Theproposal also included a $30 monthly fee.

The hearing examiner noted that while the power purchaseagreement itself "could be fixed and known," the offsetting credittied to the renewable generation would be "completely unknown" andfluctuate every month based on the PJM market.

The hearing examiner also shot down APCo's position thatthird-party PPAs executed directly between customers and generators arecurrently only authorized in Dominion Virginia Power's service territory undera commission-approved pilot program.

"The Hearing Officer's opinion confirmed what we havelong argued: that Virginians have the right under state law to enter intofinancing arrangements that are making rooftop solar more affordable thanever," Southern Environmental Law Center staff attorney Will Clevelandsaid in an Oct. 7 news release following the SCC's order. "WhileAppalachian Power managed to duck a decision from the Commission in thisproceeding, we are determined to pursue all possible avenues to finally resolvethis important legal issue.

Dominion Virginia Power, known legally as , is asubsidiary of Dominion ResourcesInc.