Category Archives: Uncategorized

Energy Freedom campaign rolls strong into summer

Ratepayers across West Virginia aren’t taking Ohio-based FirstEnergy’s attempt to put us on the hook for its failing power plant lying down. We are working hard to educate the public about this bad deal for West Virginia.

We received good news last month when Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff issued a deficiency letter to FirstEnergy. FERC is a federal agency responsible for regulating the electricity sector. The staff concluded that FirstEnergy’s application to transfer the Pleasants Plant was incomplete. FERC is requiring FirstEnergy to submit additional information on several topics. The letter found FirstEnergy’s application deficient. Interestingly, the deficiencies FERC identified were issues that West Virginians for Energy Freedom discussed at length in our filing.

Fighting back

Hundreds of West Virginians have signed a petition to the Public Service Commission urging commissioners to reject FirstEnergy’s bid. Click here to sign. You can also sign up to volunteer with our campaign. We have begun holding monthly volunteer calls to provide information and updates on the campaign. We will be working throughout the summer to educate our fellow West Virginians about this bad deal. Public hearings will start in September, so it’s critical that we spread the word now.

How solar takes the heat off

Reducing the amount of electricity you need to buy from your utility isn’t the only way going solar helps you save money. Installing panels on your roof may also reduce your energy demand. This is because rooftop solar can help regulate your roof’s temperature. A study from the University of California San Diego found that solar panel installations can reduce roof heat by as much as five degrees.

Solar panels are typically attached to your roof using a racking system. Most rooftop systems are installed so that there is a gap between the roof and the panel. This separation allows for air to flow under the panels and sweep away some of the heat. Solar panels also absorb heat that would otherwise be absorbed by the roof itself. Researchers calculated that solar’s temperature reduction amounts to an additional five percent return on investment due to lower energy costs due to reduced usage. In the winter months, solar panels can prevent heat from escaping, leading to lower heating costs.

Mid-Ohio Valley Solar Co-op selects Energy Optimism to serve group

The Mid-Ohio Valley Solar Co-op has selected Energy Optimism to install solar panels for the 25-member group. Co-op members selected Energy Optimism through a competitive bidding process over one other firm.

Co-op members selected Energy Optimism because of its competitive pricing, quality equipment, and industry experience.

The co-op is open to new members until September 18. Mid-Ohio Valley residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the OH SUN co-op web page or the WV SUN co-op web page. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Energy Optimism will provide each co-op member with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

FirstEnergy campaign update: PSC agrees to public hearings

In a big win for West Virginia ratepayers, the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) announced it will hold a series of public hearings regarding Ohio-based FirstEnergy’s attempt to soak ratepayers by selling the Pleasants Power Station to its subsidiaries Mon Power and Potomac Edison. The PSC’s decision comes as the result of significant public pressure on the Commission to do the right thing and let the public’s voice be heard.

In its ruling regarding the hearings, the Commission cited letters it has received requesting that it schedule public hearings within Mon Power and Potomac Edison territory . The hearings will be held in the fall of 2017. Dates and locations are below.

PARKERSBURG: September 6, 6 p.m., Municipal Building, Council Chambers, 3rd and Avery Streets

MARTINSBURG: September 11, 7 p.m., City Building, Municipal Courtroom, 232 North Queen Street. First Floor.

 MORGANTOWN: September 12, 6 p.m., Monongalia County Judicial Center, Judge Tucker’s Courtroom. 75 High Street, Third Floor.

In addition to the hearings, you can submit public comment in writing to:

Ingrid Ferrell, Executive Secretary
WV Public Service Commission
P.O. Box 812
Charleston, WV 25323

All written comments should be marked with Case No. 17-0296-E-PC.

Public comments may also be submitted online at http://www.psc.state.wv.us by clicking on “submit a comment” in the left column and following the directions provided.

 

Mid-Ohio Valley Co-op Seeks Installer

Earlier today the OH SUN and WV SUN issued a request for proposals (RFP) from local installers on behalf of the Mid-Ohio Valley Solar Co-op. Currently the group has 20 members in both Ohio and West Virginia, eager to move forward in the solar process.Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, WVU Parkersburg Ecohawks, the Wood County League of Women Voters , Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, and Friends of Lower Muskingum River are all co-sponsors of the co-op and are helping make this effort a success.

Local installers interested in serving the group can download the RFP here and the response template here. Mid-Ohio Valley and greater Parkersburg area residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page.

Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

How distributed solar energy benefits all consumers

Residential solar is often referred to as a ‘distributed’ energy source. This is because the sources of the electricity generation are distributed across the electric grid. This contrasts with ‘centralized’ energy sources like coal, nuclear, or gas power plants. All of these energy sources provide electricity to the grid, but distributed energy sources provide unique additional benefits to consumers that centralized sources do not.

Solar panels produce electricity during the day. During these same daytime hours, higher overall electricity demand forces utilities to meet their customers’ energy needs with more expensively produced electricity. This in turn raises electricity prices for everyone. The addition of solar to the grid helps lower everyone’s cost of electricity by lowering energy demand from solar users while simultaneously adding daytime electric capacity to meet non-solar users’ needs.

Solar generation produces electricity at or near the site of demand. So, unlike electricity produced at large, centrally-located plants, distributed solar energy does not require expensive new investments in transmission or distribution lines. Producing electricity closer to demand is also more efficient. It is estimated that roughly 6% of electricity produced in this country is lost due to transmission.

Solar energy won’t continue its impressive growth if solar customers are denied from receiving a fair price for the electricity they generate. Nationwide, there are more than 260,000 workers in the solar industry. This figure is a 25% increase over the previous year. Most solar employment is in jobs, like installation, that can’t be outsourced. The growth of distributed solar energy resources leads to more good local jobs for West Virginia workers.

Lastly, distributed energy sources like solar enable everyday consumers to take ownership of where their electricity comes from. As West Virginians discuss how we’ll power the state moving forward, these added benefits of solar are critical points to keep in mind.

Huntington Solar Co-op selects Solar Holler to serve group

The Huntington Solar Co-op has selected Solar Holler to install solar panels for the 27-member group. Co-op members selected Solar Holler through a competitive bidding process over four other firms. The group will hold its final public information session on Thursday, June 15, 5:30 p.m., at Create Huntington’s monthly Chat ‘n’ Chew meeting in the lobby of the Frederick Building, 940 4th Avenue, Huntington, WV 25701 to educate the community about solar and the co-op process.

The co-op is open to new members until August 19. Huntington residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at www.wvsun.org/huntington. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Solar Holler will provide each co-op member with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can saves up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Information session details

Thursday, June 15
5:30 p.m.
Lobby of the Frederick Building
940 4th Avenue
Huntington WV 25701

Charleston residents forming solar co-op to go solar together, get a discount

Neighbors in Charleston have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters. The U.S. Green Building Council West Virginia and WV SUN are the co-op sponsors. The group is seeking members and will host an information meeting on Monday, May 22, 5:30pm, at the Charleston Area Alliance Building, 1116 Smith Street, Charleston, WV 25301, to educate the community about solar and the co-op process. RSVP here.

Charleston residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at www.wvsun.org/charleston. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, WV SUN will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Public Service Commission sets calendar for FirstEnergy hearings

Last week, the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) released a schedule of proceedings for Ohio-based FirstEnergy’s effort to soak ratepayers by selling the Pleasants Power Station to its subsidiary, Mon Power. The proceeding operates similar to a legal trial. FirstEnergy and WV SUN will have an opportunity to submit testimony and evidence as well as cross-examine witnesses.

The PSC has set three days for evidentiary hearings to take place September 26-28 in Charleston. West Virginians for Energy Freedom will advocate that the PSC schedule multiple public hearings in both Mon Power and Potomac Edison service territories over the summer.

West Virginians for Energy Freedom continues to hold public meetings around Mon Power territory to explain why the proposed sale of the Pleasants Plant would hurt ratepayers. It would lock Mon Power customers into paying the costs for FirstEnergy’s unprofitable power plant.

A full proceeding schedule is below.

Direct Testimony of Other Parties, Including Rebuttal Testimony of Other Parties to Companies’ Direct Testimony

August 25

Last Day to Serve Discovery Requests

September 6

Rebuttal Testimony of Companies to the Direct Testimony of Other Parties and Rebuttal Testimony of Other Parties to the Direct Testimony Filed on August 25, with Work Papers

September 18

Agreed Order of Witnesses

September 22

Evidentiary Hearing

September 26-28

Initial Briefs

October 12

Reply Briefs

October 19

Local installers work with WV SUN to bring solar to ag producers

Three West Virginia-based solar installers are helping bring solar energy to West Virginia farms through participation in WV SUN’s Ag Producers’ Solar Co-op. DT Solar of French Creek, Mountain View Solar of Berkeley Springs, and Solar Holler of Shepherdstown responded to WV SUN’s Request for Information and are ready to help Mountain State farmers solar. These local solar installers have successfully serviced other WV SUN solar co-ops and are fully licensed and certified to operate in the state.

WV SUN will connect participating agricultural producers to these qualified installers based on each participant’s individual needs, location, and circumstances. WV SUN will help participants solicit and review solar proposals, and can connect participants to funding resources. This includes grant opportunities and guaranteed loan-financing programs. The participating solar installers also will assist participants in securing funding and financing to go solar.

Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase solar panels. The goal of the Ag Producers’ Solar Co-op is to help West Virginia farmers access the benefits of solar energy with technical support from WV SUN. We support, advise, and advocate for participants throughout the entire process of going solar.

This program is open to West Virginia agricultural producers for whom at least 50% of gross income comes from on-site agricultural operations. We are working closely with WV agriculture organizations and stakeholders to recruit interested participants. WV SUN Solar Co-op Coordinator Autumn Long is available to speak at agriculture-related meetings and events throughout the state. She will attend the WV Farmers Market Association market managers’ training day on April 27 to educate farmers market managers about the program and how going solar can benefit their vendors.

To learn more or sign up for the co-op, visit the webpage or contact Autumn at 304-608-3539 or autumn@wvsun.org.