Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination
CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open to visitors by appointment only. Please call or email from 8:00 a.m 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Carbon Neutral Counties Declaration
- Environmental Quality Advisory Council
- Fairfax Green Initiatives
- Green Building and Sustainable Development
- Joint Environmental Task Force
- Recycling and Trash
- Environmental Health
- Sustainability Initiatives Report
Going Solar in Fairfax County
Fairfax County encourages residents to invest in solar energy. By using renewable energy like solar instead of fossil fuels, you help reduce pollution and planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. And solar power can pay for itself in 10 to 20 years, so you’ll enjoy reduced energy bills, tax credits and other incentives, including extra protection from power loss during extreme weather when you invest in storage solutions.
This webpage provides resources for residents interested in installing solar panels in Fairfax County. For more information about the basics of solar energy, your solar options, and questions to ask solar professionals, refer to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.
Fairfax County residents are opting to install solar panels on their homes. Press play to hear from them how they made the switch and how it changed their lives for the better!
Solar energy uses a renewable energy source – the sun! In addition to reducing your electricity bill, using solar energy reduces your environmental impact and Fairfax County’s carbon footprint. You will also help reduce demand on the electricity grid during peak, sunny hours. Plus, installing solar panels can increase the value of your home. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, every dollar that a solar panel saves you on your electrical bills increases the value of your home by 20.
The first step in getting solar is assessing whether your home or building is a good candidate. A few questions to ask when considering going solar:
- Is your roof shaded by trees or other obstacles? Direct sunlight for six or more hours a day is ideal.
- Is your roof relatively new? Solar installations can last 20-25 years, so your roof should be less than five years old.
- What direction does your roof primarily face? Solar arrays can be configured in many different ways to allow for maximum exposure to sunlight throughout the day but ideally your roof should face south or west for the most exposure.
You can investigate your property’s solar potential by visiting the Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s NOVA Solar Map. You can also estimate the performance of potential solar projects using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator.
Finding a Contractor
Certified solar installers can be found through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners®. Visit the county’s Consumer Services webpage for general tips about hiring a contractor.
By going through a solar co-op purchasing program, homeowners are granted access to a pre-qualified solar installer for a no-cost evaluation of their property and can take advantage of cost savings should they decide to pursue a solar installation. information on solar co-op purchasing programs can be found below.
BEWARE OF DOOR-TO-DOOR SALESMEN AND SCAMS
Fairfax County residents should be aware of their rights and the regulations surrounding door-to-door solicitation in the county. If a salesperson comes to your door with information about solar panels or installation, please ask to see their county-issued license before engaging with them. Never provide your personal information (birthdate, social security number, etc.) to a solicitor.
If you encounter an unlicensed solicitor, please contact the Fairfax County Police non-emergency line at 703-691-2131. information on door-to-door solicitation can be found here.
Cost and Financing
Your electricity bill is based on how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity you use. Most homes use between 800 kWh and 1,500 kWh each month depending on weather, home size, energy efficiency and how many electric appliances are used.
The price of solar electricity is typically expressed in terms of dollars per watt of installed power. Typical pricing for residential systems is in the range of 5000.50 to 4.00 per watt, depending on the size and market economics. A 5 kilowatt (5 kW) solar system will produce about 8,000 kWh of electricity per year. At 3 per watt, that system would cost about 15,000 to install.
Veterans Help Build New Texas Solar Farm | Lightsource bp | Global Leaders in Solar Development
By reducing electricity costs and taking advantage of tax incentives, the 15,000 investment can pay for itself in about 10-15 years.
Residential solar panels can be purchased outright or financed with a loan from a solar installer, bank, or other financial institution.
Solar Co-Op Purchasing Programs
Solar group purchasing programs make getting solar easier and less expensive by providing information and benefits to participants. These programs typically offer:
- A free assessment to find out whether your home is a good candidate for solar installation
- Bulk discounts on solar systems, ranging from 10 to 15 percent off
- Access to a qualified solar installer
- Discounted opportunities to bundle your solar system with electric vehicle charging stations and solar battery storage
Additionally, some programs offer participants a complimentary, virtual home energy assessment to help improve their home energy performance holistically. Those who decide to pursue solar through a co-op purchasing program typically receive a 10 to 15 percent discount off current consumer rates for solar arrays and systems.
Fairfax County offers a number of incentives to encourage residents and businesses to install solar panels. The county’s Land Development Services waives the permit fee for solar permit applications, and the county’s Department of Tax Administration provides a 5-year solar energy equipment tax exemption. To learn about the permitting and inspection process, refer to Land Development Services’ page about Residential Solar Permits.
Federal Tax Credits
The federal government currently offers a tax credit for solar PV system installation, to include the costs of the solar panels, contractor labor costs, balance-of-system equipment, and energy storage devices. Systems installed between 2022 and 2032 are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit. The credit will decrease to 26 percent for systems installed in 2033, to 22 percent for systems installed in 2034, and the credit will expire in 2035 unless renewed by Congress. The installation of the system must be complete during the tax year, and there is no maximum amount that can be claimed.
Under Virginia state law (§56-594), residential customers may install systems up to 20 kilowatts and non-residential customers may install systems up to 500 kilowatts. Electric utilities must credit solar panel owners for excess electricity generated through something called net metering. Your solar contractor should coordinate with your electric utility to replace your standard meter with a net meter after your panels are installed. The net meter is bi-directional, tracking electrons flowing both out of and into the grid.
The Role of Veterans in the Future of Construction
“Veterans are a critical part of our company and our country’s workforce,” said Byron Green, Vice President, Global Operations, L3Harris. “This new solar project serves as a model of the benefits that shared goals among several organizations can create to support veterans, communities and the environment.”
The solar power agreement between L3Harris and Lightsource bp is the equivalent of eliminating about 110,000 metric tons of CO2 per year or removing 24,000 cars from the road every year. The agreement will help L3Harris meet its commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2026.
Military Veterans on a Mission for Clean Solar Energy
“At our Elm Branch solar project in Texas, we’ve come together with great partners who have a shared goal to help progress America’s sustainability,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas, Lightsource bp. “Together, we’ve built infrastructure that will reduce carbon emissions in the electricity sector and promote healthier, more resilient communities. At the same time, we’re helping veterans, who have done so much to protect America, with an apprenticeship program that’s the start of lasting careers for them in solar construction.”
The Elm Branch solar project is 163 megawatts in total. The agreement between L3Harris and Lightsource bp is for 100 megawatts of capacity and the environmental attributes. The total project is comprised of more than 360,000 solar panels across approximately 1,350 acres of land.
“Solar is providing excellent opportunities for underemployed or unemployed veterans and workers to embark on new rewarding careers,” said Scott Canada, Senior Vice President of McCarthy’s Renewable Energy Storage group. “Veterans bring incredibly valuable skills and through our accredited apprentice training program we’re able to train them and provide a path for a long-term career in construction. We had great success with the program at Elm Branch and are implementing this on other projects around the country.”
Veterans Helping Veterans
ACS, a veteran-owned and staffing organization, joined the team to implement its accredited apprenticeship program that is free for participating veterans. Through the ACS program, each apprentice builds skill through the combination of on-the-job training, mentorship and technical instruction. The curriculum is designed to help veterans understand and develop the skills and knowledge essential to be successful on construction projects and supports McCarthy’s national craft workforce training initiative.
“Developing effective partnerships with employers and the public workforce system is critical to the success of any workforce development program,” said Nicolas Morgan, President, ACS. “The apprenticeships at Elm Branch provided veterans with an opportunity to gain skills needed to confidently work and contribute to a team, along with industry-recognized credentials that can translate into lasting careers.”
About L3Harris Technologies
L3Harris Technologies is an agile global aerospace and defense technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced defense and commercial technologies across space, air, land, sea and cyber domains. L3Harris has approximately 18 billion in annual revenue and 47,000 employees, with customers in more than 100 countries. L3Harris.com.
About Lightsource bp
Lightsource bp is a global leader in the development and management of solar energy projects, and a 50:50 joint venture with bp. Our purpose is to deliver affordable and sustainable solar power for businesses and communities around the world. Our team includes over 500 industry specialists, working across 15 countries. We provide full scope development for our projects, from initial site selection, financing and permitting through to long-term management of solar projects and power sales to our clients. Lightsource bp in the US is headquartered in San Francisco with development offices in Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Austin. lightsourcebp.com
Open-minded approach creates opportunities
Steve Manning on a McCarthy solar project in Texas coordinating with vendors on logistics.
Erica Gilliland, director of craft recruiting for McCarthy, believes it’s important to have an open-minded approach to recruiting. “Veterans bring a range of skills, and sometimes their resumes aren’t easy for civilians to read and understand,” she says. “We’ve found that by taking time to talk to an individual and better understand their full skillset, you are going to be more likely to find an opportunity for them that may not have been apparent from reading their resume.”
Manning found McCarthy after being accepted into the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program, which was implemented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to assist transitioning service members in finding post-military employment.
The program receives approximately 2,500 applicants per cohort (three cohorts per calendar year), with only about 20% being accepted to a 12-week internship. Most participants have extensive leadership and team-building experience, are flexible and willing to learn, and hold at least a post-secondary degree. Additionally, upwards of 86% of Hiring Our Heroes graduates obtain full-time employment through the program.
Aspen Doran (fifth from left) with members of her design team and McCarthy’s solar project ops team on a solar project in Colorado.
“When I applied to the program, I did not have construction on my radar. I thought I’d end up with Boeing or Lockheed Martin due to my aircraft mechanic experience in the Air Force,” Manning said. “However, my interview with McCarthy’s renewable energy leaders got me excited about a career in solar construction, and the culture here is a great fit for me.”
Aspen Doran is another Hiring Our Heroes graduate who transitioned to a role as a senior project engineer on McCarthy’s solar design management team. After graduating from West Point in 2016 with a degree in environmental engineering, she spent six years working as a medical service officer for the U.S. Army.
Doran credits the military with instilling the ability to be flexible as the top skill she uses in her role at McCarthy. “We like to call it the ‘solarcoaster’ because things change rapidly with solar projects. Adaptability is key,” Doran said. “Additionally, the teamwork and camaraderie forged in the military are also transferable to solar construction, as well as the desire to learn new things.”
Apprenticeship and training programs create new career paths
McCarthy partners with organizations like Hiring Our Heroes that are already successful in this space and have the ability to reach vets, and we encourage others to do the same. In addition, McCarthy works with Adaptive Construction Solutions (ACS), a veteran-owned staffing organization that offers an accredited apprenticeship program.
Anthony Pickens, senior logistics manager for McCarthy’s renewable energy team
The program is free for veterans and each apprentice builds skills through the combination of on-the-job training, mentorship and technical instruction. The curriculum is designed to help veterans understand and develop the skills and knowledge essential to be successful on construction projects. Successful apprentices are eligible to be hired full time and continue to work with McCarthy on solar projects around the country.
Anthony Pickens, senior logistics manager for McCarthy’s renewable energy team, retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army after his 24-year military career ended due to medical concerns. A connection with ACS in his home state of Texas led him to McCarthy in 2021.
“At first I thought there was no way I’d be a good fit in the construction industry – I didn’t build bridges or pave roads in the military,” Pickens said. “But when I sat down with leadership, they breathed life into the job description. It’s a great mix of office and field work, there is always a challenge and things are never routine.”
Pickens adds he would encourage other veterans who would never consider a career in construction to have an open mind. “Military members have a purpose, and with the solar and renewable energy field, you can have a new purpose that you can be proud to be a part of.”
It is clear to us at McCarthy that veterans offer a strategic advantage to the construction and renewable energy industries. In recent years, our renewable energy and storage team has hired and trained numerous veterans and is actively engaging with more men and women returning to civilian life from military service to help them find their place on our team. Growing with veterans has proven to be rewarding and beneficial, particularly as we embrace the unique experience, perspective and innovations these individuals are bringing to our industry.
Scott Canada is Executive Vice President of Renewable Energy and Storage at McCarthy Building Companies. He can be contacted at BCanada@McCarthy.com.
Комментарии и мнения владельцев
“Because of McCarthy’s veteran-focused efforts, the company’s current workforce comprises approximately 10% veterans. These men and women are filling various roles, including entry level, craft and journeyman, operations, logistics, safety, quality control and management. Because of their military training and experience, veterans tend to have a strong sense of discipline, FOCUS, team-orientation, and leadership.” Easier to “build teams” when you have a group that has been part of a team that realizes that really tough times and really tough tasks, folks that don’t necessarily agree on (all) aspects of each other’s lives, they will always have your “six”. The FOCUS on the goal is the FOCUS of the team. Proven and hardened in training and combat, THANK YOU for your service, twice.
To learn more about the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Felllowship, registered apprenticeships, and other strategies for attracting and retaining veteran talent – join the Solar Ready Vetereans Network: solarreadyveterans.org
Find out If You Qualify for Virginia Solar Incentives
Buy and install a new home solar system in Virginia in 2022, with or without a battery storage system, and you may qualify for the 26% federal tax credit. The residential ITC drops to 22% in 2023 and ends in 2024. 5
Average-sized 5-kilowatt (kW) system cost in Virginia: 13,914
Approximate system cost in Virginia after the 26% ITC in 2022: 10,297 7