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The Herald-Dispatch editorial board is right: The way we make and use electricity is changing, and West Virginia must be prepared. This transition is not only about where our energy comes from, but who controls and benefits from it. This is why lawmakers need to change state law to allow West Virginians to enter into solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

PPAs are a form of financing similar to a lease. They are especially beneficial for institutions such as schools, churches, governments, and nonprofits. A PPA allows a developer to finance, install, own and operate a solar array on a host customer’s property. The customer purchases the electricity the system generates at a fixed rate — often lower than that of the local utility. This allows property owners to go solar with no upfront cost and lowers their electric bills from day one. As a result, they avoid the pain of utility rate hikes and stabilize their monthly budgets.

Enabling on-site PPAs will broaden access to affordable solar energy generated in West Virginia, grow our state’s renewable energy sector, create good local jobs, and encourage homegrown entrepreneurship. PPAs are legal in at least 28 states, including Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio. But they are not currently allowed in West Virginia.

Legislation to enable PPAs was introduced with bipartisan support in 2019 and 2020. Unfortunately, opposition from FirstEnergy and AEP lobbyists stalled the bills in committee.

Both of these utilities plan to invest in new solar projects, but they want to maintain control over the benefits and profits of renewable energy development in our state. So, they used their political influence to prevent passage of a common-sense law that would save West Virginians money on energy costs without raising taxes or spending taxpayer money. Find out more and ask our legislative leaders to sponsor and support energy freedom at EnergyFreedomWV.org.

Autumn Long

Mount Nebo, W.Va.

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