Solar Powering Virginia

Solar Powering Virginia

The results of the elections in Virginia and throughout the nation speak for themselves. There was a clear rejection of the craziness and extremism of the past several years; many who were part of that movement failed in the elections and others who subscribed to its beliefs are scrambling to get off the ship. The sun is shining a bit brighter in the Commonwealth and the Nation. Democracy prevailed. I am not going to carry the sunshine analogy any further, but I do want to bring readers up to date on other very exciting events coming into the sunlight, and that is the progress being made in Virginia is converting the energy of the sun into solar power.

Dominion Energy is by far the largest utility providing electricity to most of the citizens in the Commonwealth. It has made amazing progress the last few years in diversifying the way it produces electricity. According to industry experts Dominion Energy is among the top ten states with utility scale solar electricity production. Under the provisions of the Virginia Energy Act and Dominion’s plans, the utility is expected to produce 16,100 megawatts of solar power by 2035. That will be a major help to the Commonwealth in reaching its clean energy goals. In addition to Virginia, Dominion produces solar power in nine other states.

Last week I attended the kick-off event of a partnership between Community Housing Partners and Dimension Renewable Energy to provide lower-cost electricity to residents who live in an affordable housing project in Dumfries, Virginia. Partnerships such as these known as shared solar bring down the cost of electricity for homeowners while contributing to meeting environmental goals. The legislation supporting such partnerships will be under debate in the next session of the General Assembly with a goal of expanding it.

Recently, the Fairfax County School Board approved a contract to install rooftop solar panels on a school building. Under a solar power purchase agreement (PPA)), Annandale High School will receive solar panels as a pilot program to give Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) a working knowledge of these installations. The action I believe has been too long coming for a technology that is actively being used throughout the country. The flat roofs of school buildings make ideal locations for solar panels that are relatively lightweight. Reportedly the schools are working to advance projects at Chantilly High School, Thoreau Middle School, Hayfield and Robinson secondary schools, and Terraset and Mason Crest elementary schools before the end of this year

In addition to these installations to generate electricity, FCPS has 10 schools with solar panels that serve more as educational resources than power sources. These units along with the electricity-producing ones provide an important lesson for children on alternative energy, reducing pollution, and saving our environment.

There are more opportunities for consumers to install solar panels on their homes. Unfortunately, the orientation of my house along with the number of trees around it do not make a solar installation practical. I plan to join a shared solar program as soon as I can. As with any new venture, beware of the salesperson who may not be knowledgeable or ethical. Here’s to more solar power in the Commonwealth.