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Rocklands is First Business in Va. to Go Solar Through New Initiative

Rocklands BBQ and adjacent buildings (courtesy of Arlington County Department of Environmental Services)

Arlington County just became the first jurisdiction in the Commonwealth to use a private sector financing program to help local businesses go green.

The county and the state’s first business to get a clean energy boost is Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company, which recently had loans approved through a new county program to pay for upgrades to its roof at 3471 Washington Blvd in Virginia Square, as well as the installation of solar panel systems on two nearby properties. The work will likely be complete in October.

The systems “will lower our utility bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is aligned with our overall sustainability goals of reducing our carbon footprint on the environment,” said Rocklands owner John Snedden, adding that the financing kept them from using operating funds. “That’s the right thing for our business, customers and community — a win-win-win.”

Financing for Rocklands’ project and others is available through the Arlington Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, launched in 2018, which matches building owners seeking to make sustainability improvements with private capital providers who can finance them. Arlington’s C-PACE program is one of many nationwide, and is administered by the Connecticut-based Sustainable Real Estate Solutions.

“Arlington continues to develop innovative solutions to help make our community more sustainable,” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “C-PACE is such a solution: It both advances several goals in our Community Energy Plan and is the first of its kind for our small business community and new commercial developments. We’re thrilled to announce this step forward.”

Scott Dicke, who directs the Arlington C-PACE program, called the Rocklands solar financing a “historic first for Arlington and the Commonwealth.”

There are a few other applications in the pipeline that may be evaluated but may not get financed, said Department of Environmental Services spokesman Rich Dooley.

“There are myriad reasons for this,” he added. “We are hopeful that this first project to go to closing shows other property owners in Arlington and around the Commonwealth that C-PACE financing is a real financing option.”

Rocklands obtained 100% financing, or $125,000 through Arlington Community Federal Credit Union.

“We are proud to support Rocklands in their sustainability efforts and to finance the first of many C-PACE partnerships in Arlington,” said Jim Wilmot, the bank’s chief lending officer.

Building owners can obtain financing for up to 100% of the hard and soft costs associated with improvements related to improving energy efficiency, switching to renewable energy and increasing water conservation.

Meanwhile, developers can get up to 20% of a new building’s total eligible construction costs financed, provided the proposed building exceeds certain energy performance codes.

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