On April 12, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). This Act was passed as House Bill 1526 and Senate Bill 851. Dominion and Appalachian Power Company (APCo) now have a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in their service territories. The goals of the VCEA are to establish renewable portfolio and energy efficiency standards, advance offshore wind, and advance solar and distributed generation.
Dominion and APCo may use RECs from any renewable energy facility within Virginia or the PJM territory from the years 2021-2024. Beginning in 2025, 75% of all RECs used by Dominion must come from RPS resources within Virginia. All RECs are eligible to be sold for 5 years. Dominion must be 100% carbon-free by 2045 and APCo must be 100% carbon-free by 2050.
An additional component of the VCEA is that 1% of Dominion’s RPS compliance obligation must come from in-state distributed generation solar resources (DG) smaller than 3 MW in nameplate capacity. This requirement will represent approximately 90 MW in 2021 and increase to approximately 250 MW by 2030, thus supporting the development of about 160 MW of DG solar over the next nine years. At this point in the RPS’s development, it is not clear if the carve-out will result in an openly traded SREC market or if a central procurement program will be established.
Regarding the market’s potential SREC value, the solar alternative compliance penalty (SACP) has been set at $75 in 2021 for the DG solar carve-out portion of the market and will increase by 1% annually thereafter. The SACP is the value the utilities must pay per MWh if the appropriate number of RECs are not purchased, thus acting as a soft price ceiling for the market. With an SACP of $75, SRECs in Virginia have the potential to trade at a significant premium to the Pennsylvania Tier I REC market, which is currently the only REC market that Virginia-sited solar systems can sell into. This increase in value should spur additional development and make distributed generation solar more affordable in Virginia.
It is anticipated that the certification process for solar systems will begin in 2021, but a clear process has not been established at this point. We will continue to monitor the RPS’s implementation and update our partners and stakeholders accordingly.