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West Virginia Solar Development Analysis

Updated: May 21

West Virginia Solar Development Analysis

Solar development in the state of West Virginia can be evaluated by federal and local regulations, incentives, grid interconnection and integration. Solar development activity in West Virginia is currently growing and can be seen in this analysis summarizing all facets of solar energy project development.

We will break down the various federal and state incentives available to solar energy developers in West Virginia and how to access them.

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West Virginia Solar Energy Development Activity

Although West Virginia currently has no operating utility-scale solar farms, the state has one of the largest pipelines for future utility-scale solar development with 70 MW capacity for planned projects, ~6,240 MW capacity for 86 queued projects, and 455 MW capacity for 10 site control projects. Overall, if all planned, queued, and site control farms go into operating status, West Virginia will expand its capacity by 6,765 MW. In West Virginia, the average solar farm size is 245 acres, producing 69.5MW of electricity under ideal conditions. So a solar farm in West Virginia needs an average of 3.5 acres per MW of capacity.

Historically, West Virginia has been known for their coal production and coal-driven economy. Solar development and the implementation of renewable energy sources was not prioritized as a result, hence the lack of currently operational utility-scale projects in the state. Solar development in West Virginia was further reduced after 2015 when the state became the first to repeal its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The RPS would’ve enabled a deeper integration of solar and renewable energy sources in West Virginia in a three-tier structure, achieving 10% of renewables from 2015 to 2019, 15% renewables from 2020 to 2024 and 25% renewables from 2025 onwards. 

However, the recent emergence of state and federal policies have played a significant role in promoting solar development since 2018. The aforementioned spike of utility-scale solar projects added to the queue from 2018 onwards is attributable to implementation of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in 2022. The commercial ITC amounts to 30% of the invested basis in eligible property that initiated construction before the end of 2019. The IRA outlined an ITC extension to 30% for solar system installation. Additionally, in 2020, West Virginia enacted Senate Bill 583, a notable legislative development that allowed electric companies to produce a portion of their electricity using solar installations. West Virginia’s strong statewide interconnection standards also make the interconnection process less complex and expensive.


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