Loudoun County to Study Green Energy Buying Options

The Board of Supervisors has set the county staff to work on an analysis of the costs and benefits, as well as the legal questions, around options to shift the balance of energy in Loudoun toward renewables.

One is called a Power Purchase Agreement, in which a company arranges for the installation of renewable energy generation such as solar panels on a customer’s property—Loudoun County-owned facilities—at little or no cost to the customer. The company then sells the power it generates to the host customer at a rate generally lower than electric utility prices, in turn receiving that income and any applicable tax credits. Supervisors directed county staff members to issue a request for proposals for power purchase agreements.

The other, community choice aggregation, has more questions still surrounding it. In that system, the county government would purchase and manage the community’s power supply, giving the county control over the mix of fossil and renewable energy sources, while the electric utility would continue to provide distribution, billing services, and manage outages. A consultant study of that program showed promise for both increasing renewables and cutting electric bills, but also raised complex questions around costs and legal authority, taxation, and Dominion Energy’s authority to charge fees to people who get their energy through municipal aggregation than as a regular Dominion customer.

Another question is whether electric cooperatives are subject to municipal aggregation, with many Loudouners—including many data centers—currently Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative or NOVEC customers.

There also remains uncertainty around how big a project it would be for the county to administer such an agreement.

Supervisors Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said he wasn’t sure municipal aggregation would actually move the ball forward on green energy more quickly.

“What you’re doing is essentially creating competition for your utility companies, which could be good, but if those utility companies are making their own commitments and they’re investing in, say, solar farms and so on … are you actually not necessarily advancing the ball as much as you think you are because you’re hurting their ability in your particular community to move forward with lower-emissions sources?” he said.

But Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) said after discussions on the topic by the board’s finance committee, he’s excited to move forward. Consultants told him even with 100 percent renewables there is a chance for lower bills compared to Dominion.

“That just amazed me. So, I think it is absolutely worth pursuing and trying to get all the details on it,” Turner said. “But I was really shocked at the giant leap forward that this option can take right out of the chute.”

Supervisors voted 8-0-1 on April 19 to support the measure with Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) off the dais. Create your own user feedback survey

4 thoughts on “Loudoun County to Study Green Energy Buying Options

  • 2022-04-28 at 11:19 am
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    I’m glad supervisors are entertaining serious discussions about renewable energy. We simply cannot keep ravaging our environment. That would be a dreadful legacy to leave future generations. I don’t know what the outcome will be in Loudoun County. But at least serious discussions are ensuing. Happy Fair Housing Month Loudoun!

  • 2022-04-28 at 3:25 pm
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    This is truly comical. The BOS who votes in data center after data center, raising the electricity footprint of Loudoun to the moon now think they can absolve themselves by using solar power to light the room where they sign these agreements? Give me a break!

  • 2022-05-03 at 11:41 am
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    If we stop “ravaging” the environment, how will the progressives mine for lithium for the batteries, the silver for solar panels, the other precious minerals which are required? How will the progressives dispose of the millions of used solar panels which already exist, notwithstanding the millions of new ones, in existing landfills? How will progressives dispose of the used blades from windmills? The data already exists on the staggering amount of waste from these “renewable” energy sources.

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