Among Dominion Energy customers in Virginia we’ve seen a ton of interest in greening their power. But some customers don’t feel they can go solar on their own property and are looking for another way to get involved in supporting renewable energy, so they’re excited to check out program options offered by their utility. Others aren’t sure whether to bother building their own rooftop solar project with a local installer now that their electric company is advertising a green subscription that looks like a great deal.
Let’s take a closer look at what Dominion Energy offers and how the impact of dollars in the company’s programs differs from directly purchasing a solar panels installation at your home or business instead.
What’s Dominion Energy’s “Green Power” program?
As marketed, Dominion Energy Green Power is a way for residential electric customers to “match 100% … for just $0.43 a day." This presents an attractive proposition, and as the 2020s decade dawns and clean energy seems to be more widespread, one would think that these easy, no-fuss solar options would be popular and worthwhile.
Indeed, we’re supportive of giving utility customers more ways to stand up and say they want more clean energy out there in the world being built and operated, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and dirty or non-renewable technology. And many folks do choose this program, but it’s important to understand what the program is and what its not before opting in.
As blogger Ivy Main has written, it’s all about reading the label. After all, if you’re shopping for healthy snacks and pick out a bag of supposed “veggie crisps” that turn out to be puffed rice with salty flavoring, you’d realize that a name can be misleading and be glad you looked at the nutrition facts and ingredients.
Green Power does not fund Dominion Energy renewable investments within Virginia; in fact it simply goes to purchase RECs, or the environmentally positive attributes of an energy source, from outside the state and from qualified kinds of facilities that can include biomass (wood) burning, trash, and paper mill by-products.
Paying extra or paying for itself
So one of the two big differences between joining Green Power from Dominion and going solar is knowing whether the money you spend represents an investment in a resource you consider clean or not. The other is financial: the Green Power subscription costs a premium, whereas a legitimate, reputable solar installation should come to you at a price per Watt that will yield savings.
Depending on how much roof space (or ground space) you have available, you may be balancing out much or even all of your annual energy bill with your own solar power. Even a partial offset from 40 to 70 percent can pay for itself over timespan that most homeowners consider a reasonable rate, and will be warrantied by the panel manufacturer for much longer, 25 years, putting out safe, clean energy with no smokestack and no waste, for decades more of its useful life.
Virginia’s clean energy future: thriving or stifling?
Virginia only has about 14% as much solar as North Carolina has. For customers who choose not to put solar on their property, a program allowing them to invest in solar or wind projects in their local community would probably align better with their philosophy and do more to actually make air and water cleaner across our country than Green Power does.
Moreover, a recent renewable energy subscription program that Dominion has approval for would shut a crucial policy opening that used to allow for customers to contact with another retailer to purchase an all-clean energy source, as the regulated monopoly landscape in Virginia can end third party sales of that kind in the event that the utility offers such an arrangement. The 2020 Virginia General Assembly will now consider legislation that would fix this, while expanding provisions for what are called solar Power Purchase Agreements further.
Now that you know more about Green Power’s shortcomings and how the program functions, we encourage you to consider a solar electric system proposal, with monthly financing available, and make your energy really green.