NOTE: SB 1395 passed on March 2015 increased the net-metering cap for non-residential customers to 1,000 kW. Previously the cap was set at 500kW for non-residential customers. Cap for residential customers at 20kW is unchanged. The Act also provides that new net-metered facilities must be sized according to the annual expected energy consumption.
Virginia's net-metering law applies to residential generating systems up to 20 kilowatts (kW) in capacity and non-residential systems up to 1000 kW in capacity. In 2015, SB 1395 raised the net-metering cap for non-residential to 1,000 kW, and also added the provision that the capacity of the facility added after July 1, 2015 shall not exceed the expected annual energy consumption based on previous 12 months of the billing history. Interested parties must notify its electric supplier and receive approval to interconnect before installation of electric generating facility. The electric company will determine if the interconnection requirements have been met. All the cost of equipment, tests, and insurance needed to interconnect shall be paid by the applicant.
Net metering is available on a first-come, first-served basis until the rated generating capacity owned and operated by customer-generators reaches 1% of an electric distribution company's adjusted Virginia peak-load forecast for the previous year. Net metering is available to customers of investor-owned utilities (including competitive suppliers) and electric cooperatives, but not to customers of municipal utilities. HB 1983 that was passed in March 2011, requires that residential facilities with an AC capacity of greater than 10kW must pay a monthly standby charge.
Any residential net-metering customer of Dominion Virginia Power who owns and operates, or contracts to own and operate, an electric generation system with a capacity greater than 10kW and less than 20kW is required to pay transmission and distribution standby charges effective April 1, 2012. Customers will be required to pay $2.79 a kW in monthly distribution standby charges and $1.40 kW in monthly transmission standby charges. The SCC denied Dominion's proposal for generation standby charges, but Dominion may reapply for approval for these charges in the future.
In 2013, HB 1695 created net metering programs for agricultural customers of investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives. Program must begin prior to July 1, 2014, for customers of investor-owned utilities and no later than July 1, 2015, for customers of electric cooperatives, to afford eligible agricultural customer-generators the opportunity to participate in net energy metering. Agricultural customers are allowed to aggregate their meters in a single account such that they are located at contiguous sites and served under an “appropriate tariff”. The legislation does not specify what an appropriate tariff is in the case the customer who wishes to enter this arrangement.
Net Excess Generation:
Net-metered energy is measured by a meter capable of gauging electricity flow in both directions. Monthly net excess generation (NEG) is carried forward to the next month. At the end of each 12-month period, the customer has the option of carrying forward eligible excess NEG to the next net metering 12-month period or selling the NEG to the utility. The amount of credit to be carried forward to a subsequent net metering period may not exceed the amount of energy purchased during the previous annual period.* In the case of selling the NEG to the utility, the customer must submit a written request to establish a power purchase agreement with the utility prior to the beginning of the net metering period to be covered by the power purchase agreement. The investor-owned utility must pay avoided cost (or higher if agreed upon). Net metering is also available to customers on time-of-use tariffs (with time-of-use applicable NEG calculations).
Customer-generators own all of the renewable energy credits (RECs) their system generates. Virginia's net metering law states that at the time a customer enters into a power purchase agreement with the utility for net excess generation, the customer has a one-time option to sell RECs to the utility. This provision does not preclude the customer and utility (or other entity) from voluntarily entering into an agreement for the sale and purchase of RECs at any other time.
* For example, if a customer-generator bought 1,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) from a utility during the first 11 months of the annual period, and then generated 2,000 kWh of excess electricity in the12th month, the customer could carry forward 1,500 kWh to the following month, and the remaining 500 kWh would be granted to the utility.