Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Backs Solar Energy Legislation

With the risk of solar installations delaying or stopping altogether, Fairfax County is pushing politicians in Richmond to enact legislation that would lift renewable energy restrictions.

Yesterday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of supporting Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw ‘s proposal to back several bills introduced during the 2020 General Assembly that would promote a transition to a low-carbon economy

The bills include:

  • HB 572 introduced by Del. Mark Keam (D-35th)
  • HB 912 introduced by Del. Marcus Simon (D-53rd)
  • HB 1184 introduce by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th)
  • SB 710 (known as Solar Freedom Bill) introduced by State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-9th)

“These bills remove statutory barriers to distributed solar electricity generation thereby allowing local government along with Virginia residents and businesses to invest in and benefit from on-site solar generation,” Walkinshaw said.

Fairfax County is facing statutory barriers as it looks to expand its use of solar energy, Walkinshaw said.

“Fairfax County and other non-residential customers are essentially unable to use purchase power agreements due to statutory barriers including a power purchase agreement pilot program limit of 50 megawatts in the service area of Dominion Energy Virginia,” he said.

If the legislation does not pass, Fairfax County won’t be able to proceed with on-site solar installations that would total more than 40 megawatts of electricity, he said.

“I think the key message to the General Assembly is that our projects are ready to go,” Walkinshaw said. “If this legislation doesn’t succeed this year, they will stop.”

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik and other board members shared support for Walkinshaw’s proposal.

“Over the past several years, I’ve had conversations with people who do this energy work nationally or internationally, and to continually here from them that Virginia is one of — if not the most — challenging place to get any of this done, I think it’s time to turn that corner,” Palchik said.

Chairman Jeff McKay said it was “frustrating” for advocates when similar legislation failed in the General Assembly last year.

“This is an issue really critical to us here,” he said.

The board voted 9-0, with Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity absent, to send the letter to the General Assembly delegation and Gov. Ralph Northam.

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