Virginia Is a Solar Straggler

Former Governor McAuliffe touted Virginia’s leadership in solar, speaking of “the great work we’re doing to build the new Virginia economy, one that is less reliant on federal spending and focuses on growth in innovative sectors like the solar industry,” and he and Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade, boasted in March 2017 that “Virginia now ranks in the top twenty in the nation for solar jobs.”


Due in no small part to Dominion’s coolness to solar and emphasis on fossil fuels, Virginia dropped in 2017 to 20th in use of solar – from 17th in 2016. Yes, McAuliffe and Haymore were boasting about a drop in ranking! A February 15, 2018, Blue Virginia article discusses the drop, citing a January 2018 report called Solar in Virginia, produced by Powered by Facts.

“Virginia now has 290.89 megawatts (MW) of solar installed, which represents approximately .037% of its total electricity generated. This is an increase from last year’s total of 192.4 MW, and represents the state moving more than half of the way towards Dominion’s goal of building facilities to generate 400 MW of solar energy by 2020. Despite the increase in MW, Virginia’s national ranking for solar and renewable energy slipped from 17th in 2016 to 20th in 2017. This indicates that other states have embraced this highly competitive industry and are reaping its rewards, while Virginia has lagged behind.”

The report points out part of Virginia’s difficulty: “Our largest utility – Dominion Energy – also falls short. In a recent annual benchmark review of clean energy published by the non-profit Ceres, Dominion consistently ranked last among 30 utility companies in the areas of Annual Energy Efficiency and Lifecycle Energy Efficiency. The latest numbers also show that Dominion Energy was ranked 24th out of 30 in renewable energy sales as a percentage of retail sales, 30 out of 30 in incremental energy efficiency and 29th out of 30 in life cycle energy efficiency, which are the estimated savings of all energy efficiency.”

The Blue Virginia article also discusses Virginia’s 2018 ranking by Solar Power Rocks, “a firm that focuses on helping homeowners and small businesses go solar, analyzes those 51 [states] as to solar attractiveness for those potential customers. “Virginia’s grade? A big fat D. “‘Solar in Virginia: about as bad as you might think!’ The state’s big utility company, Dominion Power, offers an anemic performance payments program, which will help homeowners now but isn’t guaranteed to be there in a few years. All in all, the “D” grade is earned.”