Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in West Virginia
With coal-fired electric power plants providing over 90% of the state’s energy needs, West Virginia has a long way to go before it can be considered as engaging in the renewables agenda. Green energy production accounts for just 3.5% and comes from a mix of wind and hydroelectric power. The state did have a renewable portfolio standard in place to reach 25% of its energy production from renewable sources by 2025 but this was repealed in 2015 after objections from Republican politicians.
The state has four hydroelectric plants including Cheap Lake and Summersville Lake but has the capacity to make more of this resource in particular. There are three wind farms in West Virginia including Beech Ridge that has a capacity of just under 100 MW. Building of large scale wind farms have often come under opposition particularly from right wing politicians who are against the green agenda and the industry has largely stalled for the moment.
As you might expect from a state that has at the last moment failed to grasp the renewable nettle, West Virginia has a very small solar capacity, currently just 3 MW, most of which is residential. There are only 15 solar companies operating in the state, employing less than 300 workers and the industry has a long way to go before it catches up with other states in the US. West Virginia currently ranks 42nd in the country for solar PV installations.
Solar PV Incentives in West Virginia
Despite the gloomy prognosis, the return on investment for solar PV is not as bad as you might think. There is the 30% Federal Tax Rebate to take advantage of and it does have net metering in place. Much of the incentive for installation comes from federal rather than state provision and these are more aimed at commercial projects rather than residential with various tax breaks and the prospect of low cost loans and grants.
Solar PV Case Study in West Virginia
West Virginia is a purchase state and does not allow leasing. The average cost of a 5 kW array is $20,000 and comes with the 30% Federal Tax Rebate. There are decent savings on utility bills though and you should expect to pay off any investment within 17 years. That could net you a profit over the 25 years the array is expected to last of over $10,000. Installation of solar panels will also increase the sale value of your home to the tune of $12,500.
Solar Thermal Incentives in West Virginia
Solar thermal is proving quite popular across other states in the US, an economical way to provide hot water to a home or business and a technology which requires less maintenance than other systems. There are federal tax credits to take advantage of but no incentives from local power companies as there is in other regions of the country.
Small Hydro Incentives in West Virginia
There is plenty of potential for small hydro production in the state especially for off grid communities and agricultural land but again there are few incentives from the state save for net metering. Federal benefits include the tax rebate and low cost loans such as the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants.
Geothermal Incentives in West Virginia
Geothermal has proved popular across the US for properties that have the right insulation and sufficient surrounding ground space. Ground source heat pumps provide low cost energy and benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate. Again there are no state incentives as there are in other regions.
Biomass Incentives in West Virginia
Biomass alternatives such as wood chip burners and boilers can lower energy costs and are generally seen as a green alternative when fuel is sourced locally. There are a number of federal incentives particularly for agricultural and large scale production such as anaerobic digestion, including low cost loan and grant provision such as the USDA High Energy Cost Grant Program.
Wind Power Incentives in West Virginia
Wind power has fared a little better than other renewable technologies in West Virginia and benefits from incentives such as the Federal Tax Rebate. Despite the larger installation costs, wind turbines can deliver a decent return on investment particularly for remote and agricultural areas. For large installations, West Virginia does offer a Special Assessment for Wind Energy Systems though this depends on funds being granted by legislators.
Unfortunately, if you are renewable energy advocate and want to install something green for your home and business, West Virginia is not the best state to be in. Having recently repealed its Renewable Portfolio Standard, there is little in the way of incentives beyond that provided by the federal government and no sign that this situation will change in the near future.
If you would like to find out more about incentives available for renewable technology in West Virginia, you can visit the DSIRE web site.