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Arlington Lawmakers Get Unanimous Support for Solar Power

by ARLnow.com February 10, 2011 at 1:09 pm 2,477 12 Comments

Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly have unanimously passed bills that would create a fund to provide low-interest loans for solar energy projects in the Commonwealth.

The bill in the House of Delegates, HB 2191, was sponsored by Arlington’s Del. Adam Ebbin (D). It passed on Monday.

The bill in the state Senate, SB 975, was sponsored by Arlington’s Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D). It passed on Friday.

The bills would create the Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund, which will distribute loans to help power customers install solar panels and solar water heaters at their homes or businesses. The fund will receive funding from voluntary contributions and grants. Utilities will be required to promote the funds and let customers opt-in for monthly contributions.

“Virginia has some of the highest solar energy potential in the region, but we’re being outpaced by our neighbors like Maryland, which has only two-thirds our population but thirteen times the number of homes powered by solar energy,” Ebbin said in a statement. “This fund will ensure that more Virginians have the opportunity to power their homes with cheap, clean, renewable energy and help our companies stay competitive in the growing market for solar energy.”

Ebbin said Dominion and Appalachian Power, along with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, helped to support the bill.

  • America’s Got Talent

    YAWN. So people will voluntarily contribute money that goes into a central fund, that the bureaucracy will administer, that will give LOANS to people to put in solar. Isn’t that what banks are for?

  • Burger

    Ebbin is full of crap. “highest solar potential in the area” is hooey for solar power isn’t getting enough subsidies from Richmond.

    So, yet, again, my tree canopied house subsidies a waste of government money.

    • rcw

      I would love for you to explain how you are losing money to the state under a revolving loan program? Both the House and the Senate bills clearly state that administrative costs will be covered by the interest charged on the loans. This is a program that will be budget neutral at worst or operate a surplus.

      • Burger

        Easy. That money has to come from somewhere. It also needs to be underwriter. Who is going to pay for the defaults? It squeezes out money that could be used in a more efficient way because of the subsidy. Thus, if I want to get a loan for something else, it costs me more money.

        Who is going to add solar paneling to their house – the poor. No, likely the biggest population of buyers would be people that could already afford it. It is just like th Volt a $41,000 car – who is buying that car. People that are relatively well off but then get a $7500 credit that they don’t need anyway.

        It is wasteful spending and inefficient use of precious resources.

        • rcw

          Did you read the bill or just apply your negative preconceived notions to something you object to? It is a voluntary fund that you can chose to donate to. There is no subsidy and no tax credit. You will be paying zero dollars for this.

        • S

          OK, so there are only poor (people who couldn’t afford to do anything to their houses anyway) or rich (people who have money to burn, so $7000 or whatever the subsidy would be means nothing to them) in the state? I beg to differ that there are a lot (including me) of people that are in the middle that would like to reduce energy consumption and personal energy costs by putting solar on their homes, but have been turned off by the high cost. That subsidy would go a long way towards my ability to afford the system and reducing the time to break-even on the payback that would make it worth it to me.

    • local

      Speaking of tree-canopied houses – trees are the best form of solar power. They reduce power consumption in the summer through shade, then let warming light through in the winter. They also literally cool the air around your house in summer by evaporating water.

      I’ll bet a few big trees can be worth more in energy cost savings than a few solar panels.

  • Arlwhenever

    Law specifies that loans be given out in the order that applications are received. A single large application, let’s say by a large commericial establishment or a rich jurisdiction, could tap out the fund for months or years (compare Washington Gas’ Fuel Fund which actually goes to a charitable cause, raises through checkoffs < $1M per year and is administered gratis). I mean really, there's gotta be some other way Ebbin and Whipple can get some press.

  • 22201

    Problem with being an early adopter is that in 5 – 10 years they will be 1/3 the price, and 3 times more efficient.

    • 22205

      Agree, but cut that down to a 24 month line. Solar has come further in the last two years than it had in the previous four decades.

      • Burger

        Sure, so has celluse it still isn’t anywhere near as efficient without massive subsidies like coal, oil and natural gas.

  • Dear Arlnow,
    Interesting Thoughts, The House of Representatives approved a bill to increase the FHA’s lending limits and reduce payment restrictions. The bill, which will help low-income and first-time home buyers, was sponsored by Ohio Representative Bob Ney. It received almost unanimous support by the house with a 415-7 vote.


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