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LEAP’s ‘Solarize Virginia’ campaign hopes to help bring affordable solar panels to Commonwealth

Solar panels on a residential roof.
Solar panels on a residential roof.(Source: Pixabay via MGN)
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 10:45 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As Charlottesville works to make its way through carbon neutrality, one nonprofit is working to solarize Charlottesville -- at a better price to homeowners.

2022 marks the eighth year of the Solarize Virginia campaign by the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), which says Charlottesville is a prime spot for a massive increase in solar energy.

Right now, the second-largest source of carbon emissions in the city is residential energy. Now, LEAP is trying to slash that number with an increase in solar panels.

“We’re really seeing high levels of people who are interested in it,” said Solarize Program Manager Katie VanLangen. “And the more assessments I do, the more roofs that I find that are really perfect for solar.”

The program works to get more solar panels on roofs in the Commonwealth at a better price. Doing so begins with a free evaluation of your home to see if solar can be beneficial. Then, LEAP says its “economies of scale” can keep the price down. Part of that includes bulk purchasing of panels.

“Those benefit both our climate, they end up benefiting our pocketbooks directly,” said Susan Elliott, Charlottesville’s Climate Protection Program Manager. “And it’s one more thing that we then start doing on auto that we don’t have to think about every day, but we’re still contributing.”

Elliott said this can help reduce Charlottesville’s reliance on the grid, allowing electric services to continue during days it would otherwise be stressed.

“We actually have a lot of great potential for generation of electricity from our rooftops,” she said.

Another cost benefit comes from the federal tax credit for solar investments -- right now at 26%, but scheduled to go down to 22% after 2022.

“For folks who are interested in going solar, now is a great time to do it,” VanLangen said. “So you could still take advantage of that higher credit rate.”

Even before a consultation is scheduled, you can find out if your home has solar potential by looking at this interactive map Charlottesville created.

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