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Lawmakers can save you money

I just got my electric bill for January and I’m pleased as can be.

It was $58.34, even though I have a furnace that uses electricity as a backup. In January. That’s because I have solar panels on my house that generate electricity and feed it back into the power grid. (My house is three stories with lots of glass.) What my house generates is subtracted from what I use, and it saves me money every single month. There’s not much that can go wrong with the panels, and they are estimated to last for at least 25 years. Many panels are still going strong after 40 years. That’s a lot of money saved, especially since electricity rates always go up, never down!

But most people can’t afford to get solar panels because in our state, the individual has to front the entire purchase price to put up the panels. In the states surrounding West Virginia, third party power purchase agreements are legal, which allow a business or a nonprofit to front the installation costs for you. My daughter has this in Connecticut. The third party acts as your power company and sets a rate for you that is lower than your current rate and protects you from rate increases. No up front costs. Everyone benefits, even the public utilities who don’t have to build expensive new power plants and increase rates to pay for them. For some reason, West Virginia public utilities have opposed these PPAs for the past two years and prevented most building owners from generating electricity from the solar energy that falls on us, free of charge, every single day. That is not acting in the public interest AT ALL, and the state Public Utilities Commission should do whatever in its power to help bring these new sources of power online to benefit West Virginians of all incomes. Please go to the website West Virginians for Energy Freedom, and tell your legislators to legalize PPAs.

We will need a mix of energy sources for quite a while as we move into the future, but one of the great things about renewable energy is that we can all generate our own power whenever the sun is out (even on a cloudy day.) Imagine if we all had solar panels on our buildings! Fossil fuels could be saved for when there were no other options. We could all do our part to save the planet for our children and grandchildren, and smile like I do when I open my electric bill.

Jean Ambrose

Walker

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