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FairfaxFairfax ramps up solar initiative on public buildings

Fairfax ramps up solar initiative on public buildings

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Prospects became sunnier for Fairfax County’s solar-power initiative March 9 after the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to let a private company install solar panels at 22 more county-owned sites.

Under the power-purchasing lease agreement, Sigora Solar LLC will charge the county a fixed rate of 6.9 cents per kilowatt hour for power generated at the sites during the lease periods, which range from 25 to 28 years, but could be extended. The leases automatically would be end if power-purchase agreements were terminated for any reason, county staff said.

County officials expect that the cost savings will increase over time as the cost of power increases.
Sigora Solar will operate and maintain photovoltaic panels at:

• Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters and its parking garage, 12099 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax.

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• Great Falls Volunteer Fire Station, 9916 Georgetown Pike in Great Falls.

• McLean Governmental Center and Police Station, 1437 Balls Hill Road in McLean.

• Wolf Trap Fire Station No. 42 at 1315 Beulah Road in the Vienna area.

• McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave. in McLean.

• John Marshall Library at 6209 Rose Hill Drive in Kingstowne.

• Richard Byrd Library, 7250 Commerce St. in Springfield.

• Lillian Carey Center, 5920 Summers Lane in the Falls Church area.

• Mason District Governmental Center and Police Station, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale.

• Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Blvd. in the Falls Church area.

• Gum Springs Community Center, 8100 Fordson Road in the Alexandria area.

• Newington Vehicle Maintenance Facility, 6900 Newington Road in Lorton.

• Merrifield Center and its garage at 8221 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive in Merrifield.

• The county’s animal shelter at 4500 West Ox Road in Fairfax.

• Girls Probation House, 12720 Lee Highway in Fairfax.

• Pohick Regional Library, 6450 Sydenstricker Road in Burke.

• Jermantown Vehicle and Fire Apparatus Maintenance Facility, 3609 Jermantown Road in Fairfax.

• Reston Fire Station, 1820 Wiehle Ave. in Reston.

• Edsall Road Fire Station, 5316 Carolina Place in Springfield.

• Lorton Community Center and Library at 9518 and 9520 Richmond Highway in Lorton.

• Woodlawn Fire Station, 8701 Lukens Lane in the Alexandria area.

• Sully Community Center, 13800 Wall Road in Chantilly.

Those last five sites either are being constructed or undergoing major renovations. Officials anticipate those projects will be finished within the next 12 to 18 months.

Installation likely will not occur for at least several months because various approvals and permits will need to be acquired, county staff said.

“We certainly want to move forward as expeditiously as possible and be as facilitating as possible,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay (D).

Supervisors last October approved an agreement to let Sigora Solar install equipment on 10 buildings at eight county-owned sites. Tom Stephan of Ipsun Solar, a secondary and tertiary contractor for some of those projects, said time was of the essence in getting more such initiatives in the pipeline.

“The federal investment-tax credit of 26 percent will ramp down at the end of 2022 and likely change the pricing, with the reduction in tax incentives,” Stephan said.

Vienna resident Susan Stillman, speaking for the Great Falls Group of the Sierra Club, said solar-power purchase agreements represent a “great opportunity.”

“It makes financial sense and it helps the county fulfill its moral obligation to fight climate change and improve the environment by procuring clean, renewable energy,” Stillman said.

Supervisor Dalia Palchik (D-Providence) thanked Fairfax County Public Schools students, including some at James Madison High School in Vienna, for pressing the county to pursue solar-power options.

County officials have identified a total of 247 possible solar-power sites and much work remains to be done, said Supervisor Daniel Storck (D-Mount Vernon), who chairs the board’s Environmental Committee.

Storck thanked the community for backing solar-power projects.

“It absolutely has taken a village, and frankly the state legislature changing the laws of Virginia, to get us where we are today,” Storck said.

McKay called the initiative a “battle worth waging” and said county officials had labored hard to change laws that previously had limited solar options.

“We were in a bit of a state of shock that we couldn’t take swifter action, not only to protect our environment, but to protect the financial interests of the county and boldly move forward with solar installation,” McKay said.

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