Curtis Tate, Briana Heaney Published

Lawmakers Enable Bigger Solar Projects, Eliminate Sunset Provision

Black solar panels spread out over a rolling hill, with new grass planted below and a gravel road running between them.
The Fort Martin solar installation.
Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A prior state law capped the size of renewable power projects at 50 megawatts and included a provision to sunset the program next year.

House Bill 5528 updates that law to allow for 100 megawatt projects and eliminates the sunset clause.

Sen. Glenn Jeffries, R-Putnam, explained that the bill helps attract more businesses that want to come to the state if they can receive solar power.

“And there’s a number of companies here in West Virginia and other companies that have interest in West Virginia that would like to have solar as part of their business model,” Jeffries said.

Nucor, the steelmaker that’s building a new plant in Mason County, is one such example. By the time it begins production, it will receive at least 20 percent of its power from solar.

The House of Delegates approved the bill last month, 61 to 36. The Senate approved it Thursday, 32 to 1. It now goes to the governor.

The largest solar installation in the state was activated in January in Monongalia County. Mon Power’s Fort Martin solar generates 19 megawatts.

Mon Power expects to complete two more solar sites this year and seek approval from state regulators for two more to be constructed next year.

The West Virginia Public Service Commission has approved a siting certificate for a Kansas company to build a solar farm in Mason County.