Gov. Ralph Northam has announced the installation of three new solar energy projects at state facilities. The projects total more than one megawatt in size and will offset more than a quarter of the energy needs at those facilities.
The new solar projects are located at Haynesville Correctional Center on Virginia’s Northern Neck; the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy office in Big Stone Gap; and the Virginia Public Safety Training Center in Hanover.
“By offsetting the energy needs of our state agencies, Virginia is truly leading by example and deploying renewable energy where it will both reduce costs and create new jobs,” Northam (D) said in a statement. “Solar energy is a rapidly growing segment of our economy, and I am proud that the commonwealth is playing a role in driving this demand and taking advantage of the benefits that this resource provides.”
The largest project is a 660-kilowatt ground-mounted system at Haynesville Correctional Center that will offset 16% of the facility’s energy needs. A 300-kilowatt ground-mounted system at the Virginia Public Safety Training Center will offset 26% of the campus’s energy needs and a 140-kilowatt roof-mounted system at Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s Big Stone Gap office will offset half of the office’s energy needs.
“The commonwealth’s agencies are well-positioned to demonstrate what many private businesses already know: that solar energy is a worthy investment,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “These installations will result in a significant savings to the taxpayers of Virginia, and we hope they will pave the way for more solar development projects both in the public and private sectors.”
In July, Northam announced the installation of a 120-kilowatt rooftop solar facility project at Virginia Department of Forestry’s headquarters in Charlottesville that will offset 16% of the building’s energy needs.
Sun Tribe Solar, a solar energy development company based out of Charlottesville, installed the system. The project was funded using the remaining dollars received from the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“The Virginia Department of Forestry project is truly an innovative model that will enable our state agencies to produce clean energy on-site while reducing their utility bills,” Northam said. “As the demand for renewable energy increases, investments like this are important for our commonwealth because they spur economic development and help to expand job opportunities in the fast-growing solar industry.”
Prince William County is slated to get its first solar farm in 2020. The 225-acre farm is being built by Henrico County-based Virginia Solar and will be located near Nokesville Park along Warrenton Road, close the Prince William-Fauquier county line.
An official for Virginia Solar said the $30 million solar farm will generate about 45,000 megawatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power about 3,300 houses.