Solar Q & A: Talking policy with MDV-SEIA’s Omar Terrie

State policy plays an important role in ensuring you have the ability to go solar. One group fighting to ensure you have this right is MDV-SEIA. MDV-SEIA is the Maryland, DC, and Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association. It is a regional trade association comprised of manufacturers, installers, financiers and others involved in the solar industry. We recently sat down with Omar Terrie, the organization’s Policy Director to discuss how MDV-SEIA is working to promote solar in the region.

What are some of the big successes that MDV SEIA has achieved recently?

Most recently, MDV-SEIA passed a Community Solar Program in Maryland. In Virginia, we have focused much of our work on education of both elected officials and the general public. Over the past year, the local utility released a solar RFP, and the Governor announced a 110MW commitment from their administration, 25% of which will be procured through third-party PPAs.

What challenges do you see ahead for the local solar industry?

Based off of our discussions with member companies, we believe that there will be a dip in Maryland SREC prices for a few years. In response, we are working on an increase to the solar carve out in the renewable portfolio standard (RPS). We continue to also see fire code setbacks cause challenges throughout the region, and are working on a county by county basis to develop codes that will ensure the safety of fire personnel while not placing unnecessary burdens on solar installers.

At the federal level, Congress just extended solar tax credits for homeowners and businesses. How do you see that impacting the local solar industry?

The extension of the Investment Tax Credit provides stability and certainty to the market, which in turn, will allow our members to grow their businesses. This allows companies to focus on growth opportunities, which will benefit the local economy.

How can someone who is supportive of solar get involved?

There are a number of ways you can get involved. To better understand how solar may work for you or your business, we suggest reaching out to a local installer to receive a free quote. As part of this, they will educate you on local incentive programs, tax credits, and solar in general. We also encourage everyone to sign up for our free newsletter, Solar Flare, which will keep you up-to-date will regional solar news, including calls to action. When a call to action is sent out, we may ask you to write and call your legislator asking for their support for a bill under consideration.

What are your top policy goals this year in Virginia?

We are working to clarify that Power Purchase Agreements and Third Party Financing are legal in the state.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We greatly appreciate the support of the local community and our members. Without their support, none of our work would be possible. A special thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to ensure that solar is a priority for their legislators!