Moving to solar power may be a smart move for Virginia residents. According to the National Resources Defense Council, the state’s air is the 12th dirtiest in the nation and much of that pollution comes from power plants. In response, solar is on the rise, meeting the economic and environmental needs of the state. In addition, rebates and tax exemptions are making the switch to solar energy more economical for Virginia residents. Scroll down to learn more about these incentive programs and browse a list of solar-panel installers.
To determine a grade for each state, our researchers and solar experts analyzed data on crucial solar-advancement criteria from the following sources:
- Rebates, Tax Credits, and Tax Exemptions from Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency;
- Electricity Rates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration;
- Renewable Energy Policy from NC Clean Energy Technology Center;
- Interconnection Ease from Freeing The Grid;
- Photovoltaic Potential from the Energy Department
We determined a rank from 1 to 10 for each state in each category. We then combined the scores with the following weights and assigned an overall grade for each state. Our goal is to encourage those considering solar for their homes to get a basic understanding of solar potential in their areas and discover the best opportunities for clean energy available.
Incentives & Rebates, 40%
Electricity Rate, 15%
Renewable Energy Policy, 30%
Interconnection Ease, 5%
Photovoltaic Potential, 10%
Average Electricity Costs in Virginia
High utility costs generally drive up the use of solar power. However, in Virginia, residential electricity is about $.12/kWh, which is near the national average. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the price has been relatively steady since 2011, indicating that there hasn’t been a huge shift in the supply or demand. In general, the state’s energy consumption comes primarily from natural gas, nuclear electric power and coal.
Cost of Residential Electricity
Data from U.S. Energy Information Administration
*as of Q3 2015
Library of Solar Resources
Incentives & Policies for Solar Panels in Virginia
Several rebates, grants and other incentives exist for residents looking to go solar. These solar-friendly offerings make it more financially lucrative to make the switch from traditional power sources to solar power. Incentives fall under local, state and federal umbrellas and can often be combined for added benefits, however state incentives are minimal. The Tennessee Valley Authority offers a solar rebate for those that fall within its boundaries, impacting only those in four of the state’s counties. Find out what you qualify for in the links below.
REBATES AND INCENTIVES
The Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund is used to provide loans for residential, commercial, or nonprofit solar energy projects.Dominion Virginia Power – Solar Purchase Program
Dominion’s incentive program is for customers that install solar PV systems at 15 cents per kWh with a five year contract. Both residential and nonresidential customers are eligible.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provides incentives for mid-sized renewable energy generators between 50kW and 20MW to enter into long term price contracts. The total production goal from all participants is 100MW, with no more than 50MW from any one renewable technology.Clean Energy Manufacturing Grant Program
Virginia clean energy manufacturers can receive a grant for up to six years if it makes a capital investment of more than $50 million in Virginia, creates 200 or more new full-time jobs and enters a memorandum of understanding setting forth the requirements for capital investment and the creation of new full-time jobs.Small Business and Nonprofit Loan Program
The Virginia Small Business Financing Authority provides financing for solar projects to small businesses and nonprofits.TVA Solar Solutions Initiative
The Solar Solutions Initiative (SSI) offers additional financial incentives for solar systems participating in the Renewable Standard Offer program offering a performance-based incentive of .04 cents per kWh for the first 10 years. This incentive is additional to the seasonal and time-of-day price for electricity offered through the Renewable Standard Offer program.VirginiaSAVES Green Community Loan Program
This program provides low cost financing to private commercial and industrial, non-profits, and local governments funding a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the state.
Virginia net-metering is available on a first-come, first-served basis to customers who generate electricity from renewable energy sources up to 20kW capacity for residential customers and 1,000kW for non-residential customers.Interconnection Standards
There are two interconnection standards in the state of Virginia: one for net-metered and one for non net-metered. Full details can be found within.Solar Easements
The Virginia Solar Easements Act of 1978 allows property owners to create binding solar easements to protect and maintain proper access to sunlight.
Virginian community associations generally may not prohibit a homeowner from installing or using a solar energy collection device on their property. However, it may establish reasonable restrictions concerning size, place, manner of placement of individual solar devices or restrict the installation of solar devices on common areas within the development.
None for commercial specifically
Local governing bodies of any county, city, or town in Virginia can impose a different property tax on renewable energy generating machinery and tools compared to other normal use machinery. The rate of the property tax cannot exceed the rate of the general class of machinery and tools.Local Option – Residential Property Tax Exemption for Solar
Virginia provides the option for any county, city or town to exempt or partially exempt solar energy equipment and recycling equipment from local property taxes. This status is targeted toward residential participants.
All certified commercial solar facilities under 20 megawatts (MW) are exempt from state and local taxes. The exemption does not include the land.
Virginia Solar Installers & Contractors
With 11 years of experience, AltEnergy builds solar energy systems and provides a wide range of alternative energy services.
Where it operatesCharlottesville, VA
Baseline Solar brings alternative energy solutions to its customers in southwest Virginia.
Where it operatesBlacksburg, VA
Year of opening2009
This company designs and installs solar and other alternative energy systems, including grid-tie and grid-tie with battery back-up solar systems.
Where it operatesMax Meadows, VA
Year of opening2008
Main Street Solar is a solar engineering and installation firm.
Where it operatesFincastle, VA
Year of opening2008
Serving the greater Richmond area and installing in the entire Commonwealth, Old Dominion Innovations works on projects of all sizes.
Where it operatesRichmond, VA
Primal Energy is a full-service company that works in central Virginia and the DC/Baltimore area. It consults, designs and installs solar panel systems.
Where it operatesRichmond, VA
ProSolar provides solar systems to residential properties with pitched roofs, flat roofs and on ground-mounts.
Where it operatesSt. Thomas, VA
Shockoe works with a variety of business partners in and around Virginia and is a part of utility-scale solar projects in addition to residential and business planning and installation.
Where it operatesAshland, VA
Sigora Solar serves its customers one at a time and through community-based solar cooperatives.
Where it operatesWaynesboro, VA
Year of opening2011
Solar Connexion works with a variety of renewable energy systems across the mid-Atlantic area.
Where it operatesBlacksburg, VA
Year of opening1993
Solar Services serves southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina to install and maintain solar systems. It has offices in Tennessee, Florida and several sister locations.
Where it operatesVirginia Beach, VA
Year of opening1986
SolShine specializes in small-scale projects for homes and businesses.
Where it operatesCheck, VA
Year of opening2010
Virginia Solar Energy Resources
Serving, Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, the MDV-SEIA was founded in 1984 to support businesses in the solar industry. It offers policy advocacy, networking, education and other benefits to its members.
Learn more from this environmental action group about renewable energy in Virginia as well as a host of other issues for both activists, environmental leaders and those looking to do more to go green.
Find facts about going solar in Virginia, including the cost of traditional electricity, information about policies and the state of solar in Virginia today.
Explore public information about public notices, emerging environmental issues, programs and laws and regulations.
Virginia Energy Sense is an energy education program under the umbrella of the State Corporation Commission. It aims to teach residents of the Commonwealth how to save energy and energy costs to reduce electric consumption below 2006 levels.
The VSEA was established in 1983 to help empower citizens of Virginia about solar technology.