Author: Harrison Horst
HEC General Manager explains utility budget shortfall that city schools’ solar project is expected to cause
As reported last week in The Citizen, HEC says the planned schools project will result in a $225,000 net operating loss to its budget – even though the electricity generated by the schools’ solar panels will reduce the amount of electricity HEC buys from Dominion. That’s because HEC doesn’t sell electricity to the city schools, or any of its customers, at the same price it buys it.
After a petition, press conference, and questions about process, city council postpones vote on HEC nominations
The once-routine practice of appointing members of the Harrisonburg Electric Commission (HEC) attracted unusual attention this week, as some city residents raised concerns about transparency and the commission’s commitment to the city’s sustainability goals. As a result, on Tuesday night, the city council postponed action for a second month in a row on two appointments to the five-member commission that governs the city’s electric utility.
Facing newly energized opposition, Del. Tony Wilt announces reelection bid for his 26th District seat
On Tuesday, surrounded by prominent fellow Republicans on the courthouse steps, Del. Tony Wilt announced his intent to seek a fifth term representing the 26th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. His announcement follows recent campaign launches by two Democrats hoping to face him in next year’s general election. In his remarks on Tuesday, Wilt emphasized a grassroots approach to the upcoming campaign.
The next election season has already begun. Last week, Harrisonburg resident Brent Finnegan announced his campaign as a Democratic candidate for the 26th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. In his campaign announcement video, Finnegan focuses on what he calls “kitchen table” issues, including the rising cost of healthcare, overcrowded schools, and paychecks that can no longer pay the bills.
As solar panels keep popping up, “affordable” and “renewable” emerge as potentially conflicting priorities for electric grid
For the moment, HEC’s guiding mission is to provide “affordable and reliable” electricity to the citizens of Harrisonburg – and using price as a metric, it has been wildly successful. “Right now, for last year and this current year, we have the lowest residential rate in the state of Virginia, and have always been in the top two or three for as long as I can remember,” said Brian O’Dell, HEC’s General Manager. Right now, one kilowatt-hour of electricity costs about 10.5 cents in Harrisonburg.
But as behind-the-meter solar generation in Harrisonburg continues to rise, “affordable” and “renewable” may become conflicting priorities because of how HEC – and most other utilities – structure their rates.