Charlottesville nonprofit launches campaign to install more solar panels in central Virginia

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 10:06 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Going solar in central Virginia may be a little easier thanks to help from a Charlottesville nonprofit.

The Local Energy Alliance Program, or LEAP, is bringing back its Solarize Virginia program. It’s designed to help homeowners install solar panels quickly, and for a lower cost. Katie VanLangen, who is the Solarize Virginia program manager, says it’s possible because LEAP is buying in bulk.

“Costs for solar can sometimes be overwhelming, or make people think that it’s not possible for them,” VanLangens said. “We work with local installers to provide bulk pricing rates, so they give us really discounted rates to be a part of the program and then we pass those discounts along to the participants.”

Each house that switches to solar energy is benefitting - both helping the city reach its climate goals, and also keeping money in your wallet.

“They start to see these months where their utility bills are very low and they can actually generate so much electricity that they end up sending some of it back over to Dominion, which means they then get a credit,” said Susan Elliott, Charlottesville’s Climate Protection Program manager.

The city’s goal is to reduce emissions to 45% by 2035, and then be carbon-neutral in 2050. Elliott says going solar can really help reach those goals.

“When we look at where our emissions are currently coming from, the largest source of those is from our home,” she said. “So all of our residences, and that’s the energy that we’re using to heat, power, and cool those buildings.”

LEAP says the more people who participate, the better chance the city can meet those marks. VanLangen says it can put Charlottesville ahead of the curve.

“They’ve made some really clear goals about where they want to be in the future and we’re really seeing an uptick in the adoption of solar by homeowners,” she said.

The Solarize program is available for households in Charlottesville, plus Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudon, Madison, Orange, and Rappahannock Counties. If you are interested in signing up for a free solar satellite assessment, you can sign up here.

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