Yes, Virginia Does Do Solar

Since last summer, when Gov. Robert McDonnell signed into law a number of bills supporting solar energy development in Virginia, some exciting things have been happening on the solar energy front in the state. Late last year, Dominion Virginia Power announced its intention to launch a community solar initiative. And, this year, Washington and Lee University in Lexington commissioned the state’s largest photovoltaic (PV) system.

The 444-kilowatt Washington and Lee system consists of two arrays—one rooftop array of 1,016 SunPower modules on the roof of the Law School, and a custom-designed steel canopy featuring 540 Sanyo modules over the university’s parking deck. The PV systems will help the university achieve its goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the next five years, and reduce its electricity bill by about 3 percent.


image via Southern Energy Management

Leveraging tax-based incentives for renewable energy projects can requires some creating financing tools when it comes to developing projects for tax-exempt entities like universities. This project was made possible by a collaboration between Washington and Lee, Staunton-based solar energy developer Secure Futures, and two contractors: Morrisville, N.C.-based Southern Energy Management and Maryland-based Standard Solar. The university  is leasing the system from Secure Futures under a 20-year leasing agreement with its subsidiary, Lexington Solar.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

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