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The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) has received Gold designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar.
This designation recognizes NVRC for taking bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Gold designation is a signal that Northern Virginia is “open for solar business.” To date Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax City and Loudoun County have achieved a level of SolSmart designation. Fairfax County is in the application process to receive designation.
“We are proud to have achieved this designation in recognition of the Commission’s efforts to promote solar energy in the region,” said Vienna Mayor and NVRC Chairman Laurie DiRocco. “Combined with energy efficiency/conservation efforts the Commission is making a concerted effort in helping residents and businesses reduce their energy usage and produce their own.”
SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 200 cities, counties, and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.
As a SolSmart designee, NVRC is helping solar companies greatly reduce the cost of installations and pass those savings on to consumers. This allows even more local homes and businesses to obtain affordable, clean, and reliable electricity through solar. The actions NVRC has taken will help encourage solar companies to do business in the area, driving economic development and creating local jobs.
To receive designation, cities and counties make changes to their local processes to reduce the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. This includes evaluating local permitting processes, as well as planning and zoning procedures. SolSmart designees also develop innovations in areas such as market development and finance.
Since 2014 NVRC along with its local government partners and the not-for-profit organization, the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), have implemented the Solarize NoVA program in the region. Further, NVRC has worked with the Piedmont Environmental Council to share this program beyond Northern Virginia. To date more than 2MW of new solar arrays with a contract value in excess of $6 million have been achieved. The Solarize program utilizes locally based solar contractors as part of its program. In addition, NVRC created the first regional solar map of its kind in the Commonwealth to assist property owners with understanding how much solar energy their property can generate. The map can be found at www.novasolarmap.com.
SolSmart uses objective criteria to award communities points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Communities that take sufficient action are designated either gold, silver, or bronze. As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. All cities and counties are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org.