Metaphorical Sun is Rising on VA Solar in 2020

From the Desk of the Executive Director

At LEAP, renewable energy or solar PV on your house is the second major measure we suggest to homeowners – after having done every energy-efficiency measure in their household. Last year was one of the biggest for residential rooftop solar contracts made through LEAP’s Solarize campaign, partially because of the Federal Income Tax credit dropping from 30% in 2019 to 26% in 2020.

Last year, I wanted to further my personal quest for a net-zero house and take advantage of the tax credit, so I added an additional 3 panels to my existing system, which I think has me nearly there. An important thing we learned last year was that in order to qualify for the tax credit, the system has to actually be installed that calendar year. So, if you’re thinking about putting solar on your house this year and want to get the 26% tax credit, start sooner. LEAP’s Solarize campaign, where we negotiate the best price for a standard system, will run from early April to June. The tax credit goes down to 22% in 2021, which means $500-$1,000 less tax credit for your average system.

One of my favorite residential solar projects LEAP started last year was helping residents who had previously been stymied by their HOA install rooftop solar on their home. A special grant allowed us to hire some of the best lawyers in VA – Reisinger Gooch – to write a report reviewing residents’ rights in regards to Virginia HOA solar law and provide some interested homeowners with pro-bono legal assistance. I’m happy to report that the first client served by the lawyers just had a positive outcome. They are now installing solar on the front of their house (southern-facing roof), which had previously been blocked by their HOA. Contact us if you or someone you know is having this problem, and we may be able to assist.

Hopefully, this service will no longer be needed in the near future because of legislation working through the Virginia General Assembly. A number of bills being discussed support community solar that allow households to benefit directly from solar not sited on their house and clarify what HOAs can claim as a “reasonable restriction” for denying rooftop solar placement. All of these should help unleash more solar in VA by reducing regulatory barriers and costs.

I’m optimistic about more and more people being able to access solar this year in Virginia. It is an important tool in our fight against climate change and making our communities and individuals more resilient. It also makes our economy more efficient (no more fossil fuel charges!) and creates good jobs. I look forward to LEAP playing a role in helping homeowners and municipalities navigate this new, exciting landscape.

Regards, Chris

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