Lawmakers should legalize power agreements

Jan. 25, 2019

The Daily Mail editorial “West Virginia can lead in renewable energy too,” (Jan. 11) misses the point.

The editorial acknowledges two important facts: that the energy of the future could and should come from West Virginia; and that every form of energy has financial and environmental costs.

However, the editorial goes on to blame opposition to some forms of energy development as to why West Virginia has trouble competing for future energy needs.

Since all energy development has both benefits and costs, there will always be opposition to, as well as support for, any form of energy. Successful leaders recognize this and develop plans and strategies to meet future market demands as they arise.

The undisputed facts are that gas is replacing coal as an electricity generation source in the short term, while renewable forms of energy will continue to increase as a percentage of supply over the long term.

But this is not a zero-sum game. West Virginia can win as a gas supplier and a leader in renewable energy — if state policymakers take the necessary steps to encourage competition, growth and development in our rapidly changing energy system.

Our lawmakers can take one such step during this legislative session by passing a bill to legalize Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for on-site renewable and alternative energy resources in West Virginia. This widely available financing mechanism allows a third-party developer to install, own and operate an energy generation system — such as a solar array, methane digester or combined heat and power (CHP) facility — on a host customer’s property. The customer purchases the system’s electricity output at a fixed rate, often lower than that of the local utility company.

Commonly used by commercial businesses and tax-exempt institutions such as schools, churches and municipalities, PPAs give consumers access to affordable energy with low to zero upfront cost while lowering electric bills from day one.

Legalizing PPAs for on-site renewable and alternative energy resources will help consumers protect themselves against future rate hikes, create good local jobs, and encourage economic investment in our state — all without raising rates or hiking taxes.

That’s why we have joined West Virginians for Energy Freedom, a coalition of neighbors, organizations, businesses and officials who believe West Virginians should have the right to take control of where their energy comes from. Visit wv4ef.org to find out more and join the fight for energy freedom in West Virginia.

Tom Loehr

and Autumn Long

Leave a Reply