“Take me home country road.” Ah, West Virginia, home of the Blue Ridge Mountains, wild, untamed country—or is it? West Virginia, while home to gorgeous green mountains, also has a much blacker side—its history with coal. In recent years, this Appalachian state has made national headlines numerous times for deadly coal mine incidents, including one in 2010 that claimed the lives of 29 miners. Maybe it should look to more of its natural resources for renewable energy supplies.
While the state has made some inroads to building its renewable energy industry, West Viginia is still dominated by its coal industry. It offers residents some incentives, a tax credit, and a net-metering policy to convert to renewable energy. But it also focuses on helping residents adopt energy-efficient products to help them reduce their energy use.
The mountains and forests of West Virginia make it a great place for outdoor enthusiasts with some of the world’s best white-water rafting as well as fishing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, hunting and more. But they don’t make it a great place for renewable wind or solar.
In fact, it’s the southernmost state that gets an average of about 4 kilowatt hours of sunlight per meter squared, per day. Even Maryland and Virginia, its eastern neighbors, get more sunlight. In addition, the state’s wind resources are limited to an eastern band of the state, where the Appalachian Mountains cross over the state.
Since West Virginia is a major coal producer, it’s also a large consumer of the fossil fuel, with 90 percent of the state’s consumption going to electricity production. And the overwhelming majority of West Virginia’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, with smaller amounts coming from hydroelectric dams on some of the state’s rivers. West Virginia’s energy consumption on a per capita basis is relatively low. However, the state is a major exporter of electricity, beat only by Pennsylvania in terms of electricity exported.
Despite this dark-power past, it’s almost a surprise that the state adopted a renewable energy portfolio. But it has. The state’s Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard requires investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to provide 25 percent of their generating capacity with renewable or alternative energy by 2025. While the alternative verbage will allow a lot of the power to continue to come from non-renewable resources, the legislation does limit natural gas as a portion of the total to 10 percent.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Electric, Landfill Gas, Wind Energy, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Geothermal,
Fuel Cells, and Solar Hot Water Heating
|Amount||Credited to customer generator’s monthly bill at retail rate|
|Required Documentation||Interconnection agreement with utility|
|Official Web Site||Check with utility|
Net metering in West Virginia went through an upgrade of sorts 2010 when new legislation clarified the state’s net-metering laws.
The state requires all utilities to offer net metering to residential customers with qualifying systems up to 25 kilowatts. Commercial customers of investor-owned utilities with more than 30,000 customers may net meter systems up to 500 kilowatts and industrial customers of such utilities may net meter a system up to 2 megawatts.
For smaller investor-owned utilities and other utilities in the state, commercial and industrial customers can net meter systems up to 50 kilowatts. Utilities must offer net metering to customers until net-metering generation reaches 3 percent of their electric generation. Potential customers must check with their utility to sign an interconnection agreement and to learn more about their net-metering program.
The net-metering law covers a wide variety of distributed generation, including renewables, like solar and wind, but also some more nebulous forms of localized energy generation, which includes landfill gas and combined heat and power systems. Customers can use a bi-directional meter or two meters to net-meter.
Under the law, utilities credit forward any net excess generation from customers on a perpetual basis. Customers are credited for excess generation at their retail rate. Credits only apply to the energy portion of the bill, not demand charges, or other fees.
Customers with systems up to 50 kilowatts in size must have $100,000 in liability insurance. Larger systems, those up to 500 kilowatts, must carry $500,000 in liability insurance, and systems larger than 500 kilowatts must carry $1 million in liability insurance.
|Program Type||Tax Credit|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Solar Hot Water Heating, Solar Space Heat|
|Amount||30 percent, maximum credit of $2,000|
|Required Documentation||Schedule SETC|
|Official Web Site||http://www.wva.state.wv.us/wvtax/default.aspx|
Under West Virginia’s Residential Solar Energy Tax Credit, homeowners may apply to for a tax credit up to the lesser of 30 percent or $2,000 for purchasing and installing a PV system, solar hot water system, or solar space heating system. To apply for the tax credit, system owners must fill out West Virginia tax form, Schedule SETC. For each year the taxpayer plans to qualify for the credit, he or she must fill out the form. Under the state’s tax code, system owners can claim the entire credit in one year or space it out over a number of years until the total amount available is credited to the owner.
Solar hot water systems covered under the credit are limited to those that provide hot water for the home. Solar pool heaters are not covered under the code. In addition, to qualify for a solar-hot-water-system credit, the installation must provide at least 50 percent of the home’s hot-water needs directly from the sun. There is no cap on the size of a PV or other system, just the $2,000 cap on the amount a taxpayer may receive from the state for installing a system.
The legislation enabling the program was passed in June 2009 and has a sunset date of July 2013 for new applicants. Under the current code, the last tax year to qualify for the credit is 2013, and filed in 2014.
Personal Tax Credit
Property Tax Incentive
Utility Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Renewables Portfolio Standard
Solar/Wind Access Policy
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.
Homeowners installing residential solar hot water and solar electric systems between now and December 31, 2016 can claim 30 percent of the system costs as a tax credit under the Federal Energy Star program.
The program applies to systems installed in new or existing primary residences. Systems installed in vacation homes may be eligible for a partial credit. No credit is given for systems installed in rental properties.
Corporate Tax Credit