Fairfax County government officials announced contracts with multiple solar power purchase agreement (PPA) service providers. The contracts will allow for the installation of solar photovoltaic arrays at Fairfax County government, school, and park sites, providing the potential for both substantial cost avoidance and environmental benefits over time. The PPA will potentially expand the use of solar energy to 87 Fairfax County public schools and facilities. This is the largest solar PPA initiative by a local municipality in Virginia to date.
Solar PPAs are attractive financing mechanisms for the purchase of renewable energy by government entities because they allow for the purchase of solar-generated electricity from on-site arrays without upfront installation or ongoing operational costs. The solar PPA service provider is responsible for installation, management and maintenance costs.
The contracts include favorable electricity rates that in most cases are fixed for the duration of the contracts. As a result, this initiative could potentially yield over $60 million in electricity cost avoidance over the terms of the contracts. Reinvesting the cost savings in energy efficiency and additional renewable energy opportunities will help generate further savings.
The contracts established by Fairfax County with the solar PPA vendors are rideable, allowing neighboring jurisdictions to take advantage of the competitive rates and reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.
“Fairfax County is excited to take a major step toward a more sustainable energy future,” said Bryan Hill, Fairfax County Executive. “Implementing on-site solar will hopefully lower our electricity costs as we support our Board of Supervisors adopted priorities. Fairfax County is striving to promote and encourage the use of renewable energy as we reduce our carbon footprint. We are committed to making choices around energy resources that benefit the residents of Fairfax County now and in the future.”
“We’re excited to be partnering with the County in a movement that’s good for our students, families and our environment,” said Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand. “Lower energy costs through solar power purchase agreements will enable FCPS to save millions of dollars while freeing up additional funds for classroom investments. We look forward to working with the County to expand this initiative to as many FCPS schools and facilities as possible. Our solar investment will also become an amazing learning lab for our students to reinforce the value and sustainability of solar energy.”
“Increasingly, forward-thinking leaders are recognizing that they can save taxpayer dollars while also taking advantage of the educational opportunities that come with embracing on-site solar, and it’s clear: with this announcement, the big winners are taxpayers, communities, and students in Fairfax County,” said Taylor Brown, chief technical officer of Sun Tribe Solar. “Nearly every week, we hear from a local government or school system looking for solar solutions, and Fairfax County’s ambitious plan here is a reminder that Virginia’s solar market is growing rapidly. We’re excited to work with their first-class team across the county to make a positive impact on every community.”
The contract awards follow the June 2019 release of a request for proposals for roof-mounted and canopy/carport-mounted solar installations at 113 sites. Following evaluation of the proposals and negotiations, three teams of solar providers were awarded contracts: Sigora Solar/Standard Solar, BrightSuite (a subsidiary of Dominion Energy)/Sun Tribe Solar, and Ipsun Solar/SunLight General Capital.
“Dominion Energy is committed to helping customers meet their sustainability goals, and we are proud to be a trusted energy partner with Fairfax County as they work to reduce their carbon footprint. Projects like these provide customers with the renewable energy they want, and the power purchase agreements that are associated with them create long-term price certainty and savings,” said Samantha Moore, communications specialist at Dominion Energy.
This initiative is one piece of a larger set of strategies and actions Fairfax County is undertaking to address energy and climate-related issues. With the advent of the newly established Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC), the county is placing a renewed and concerted focus on energy use both in county facilities and in homes and businesses. The OEEC is principally responsible for the Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan and will engage county residents and stakeholders to devise a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming year.
News item from the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination