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Solar, Solar, Solar, but Reduce First!

From the Desk of the Executive Director

It is starting to get warmer out, and my rooftop solar production is high! If the warm weather has got you thinking about solar energy too, our Solarize campaign is live in Northern Virginia and around the corner in the Piedmont region. But, this year we are expanding our campaigns throughout Virginia into Roanoke, Blacksburg, and Greater Richmond. 

As battery prices have been coming down and the need for resiliency during potential catastrophic events like what happened in Texas, installing solar with battery storage is looking smarter and smarter. This year, Solarize participants can sign up for solar, EV chargers, and battery storage. 

A lack of home weatherization was one thing I read about that contributed to the Texas disaster, which only exacerbated the demands placed on the grid. When considering residential solar, a good rule of thumb is to first make sure you’ve done everything possible to reduce the energy consumption from your home first.

Credit: Sun Badger Solar

Air sealing and insulation for most older homes are typically the biggest opportunities (and highest return on investment) with replacing HVAC equipment next, again in most cases. LEAP offers a home energy assessment to all of our Solarize customers, which is a great way to learn how to reduce your energy consumption while guarding against buying ‘too big’ of a solar system.

Not every home is great for rooftop solar, so on the medium-term horizon LEAP is looking toward how it can connect those customers to community or shared solar projects. Legislation passed in 2020 expanded the community solar option for those in Dominion territories, but we are likely not to see the ability for those projects to be reflected on your utility bill until the middle of 2023. LEAP is speaking with several community solar project developers to offer those who signed up for Solarize, but couldn’t install, a manner to get solar-generated electricity. The model we are exploring would also bring solar energy subscriptions to low-income households, who would also receive a discounted rate on their electricity bill. Should be a win-win.

Regards, Chris

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