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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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Arlington is getting a little greener.

Affordable housing developer AHC Inc., in partnership with Arlington County, introduced 342 solar panels at The Apex complex (2900 and 2910 S. Glebe Road) last week. The nonprofit touted the undertaking as “the largest solar panel array on a multifamily apartment building in Northern Virginia.”

The 130-kilowatt installation will ultimately generate electricity to offset common area energy usage. The energy will power the lights, elevators, fitness equipment and power to the apartment community’s leasing office.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to reduce our operating expenses while also cutting back on carbon emissions,” AHC President and CEO Walter D. Webdale said in a press release. “Converting a portion of our energy source to renewables is a win for everyone – the community, our residents and for us.”

The Apex is a five-story, two-building affordable housing complex that opened for residents this spring. It replaced The Berkeley, a four-story housing complex built in 1961 and located west of Crystal City, along Four Mile Run. The Apex’s 256 units — including one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments affordable for low- and moderate-income households — replaced The Berkeley’s 137 units.

The Arlington County Board gave a final approval to the project, which received around $20 million in loans from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, in July 2018. Additional funding came through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority.

“The Apex project shows that affordable housing and sustainability can be woven together beautifully to create a climate of change,” said Claude Williamson, Director of Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

“Energy efficient construction and solar power are important for containing the costs of affordable living and to reach Arlington’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” he said. “We look forward to working hand in hand with our entire community to create and maintain more sustainable, affordable housing for the future.”

Photos courtesy AHC Inc.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Arlington’s Solar Co-op is still open to new members — but only for two more weeks!

The sign-up deadline is August 21!

You’re invited to our last free webinar to learn about going solar with the co-op.

You’ll get the scoop on:

  • Things to consider when putting solar panels on your home
  • Ways to finance your new solar system
  • How to add a charger for your electric vehicle
  • What it means to go solar with the Arlington Solar Co-op. (Spoiler alert: going solar at a discounted group rate, with expert guidance throughout the process.)

You’ll get answers to these questions and more:

  • Is my roof good for solar?
  • How does solar technology even work?
  • What are the benefits of going solar?
  • What local and federal laws do I need to know about?
  • How can the solar co-op save me money?
  • How can I get an electric vehicle charger for my home?

Take advantage of one of the last big federal solar tax credits. This year the solar tax credit will be 26 percent. In 2021, it will be 22 percent and in 2022 and beyond, it won’t be available for homeowners at all.

Please RSVP and join us to learn more:

August 11 at 12 p.m. — Solar and Electric Vehicle Charger Info Session

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

A major storm has hit our area and your neighborhood just lost power. Your refrigerator stopped humming, your air conditioner ceased and the clock on your stove just went black.

What’s more, you don’t know when the power will be restored. An hour? Tomorrow? What if it’s longer? When the power goes out nothing works (unless you have solar and batteries from Arlington’s Solar Co-op).

If these questions make you uncomfortable, chances are that you don’t have an emergency plan or kit on hand.

This scenario is only hypothetical but we’ve seen it here in Arlington time and time again. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes — all natural disasters are inevitable. This weekend hurricane Fay is going to narrowly miss Arlington. The key is being prepared. Having an emergency plan and kit can make all the difference.

Since COVID-19 appeared we can’t necessarily bunk up with family, neighbors, or even in a hotel during an emergency without risk.

Below are links to a family-friendly emergency scavenger hunt from Dominion Virginia Power, additional preparedness tips, a link to Arlington’s Solar Co-op and emergency planning resources from Arlington County.

Make a plan and kit today — they could be a real life saver.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

As we move into Phase 2 opening, we will continue our virtual solar and electric vehicle (EV) co-op sessions.

More than 200 homeowners have already installed solar panels as part of our Solar and Electric Vehicle Charger Co-op.

This spring, we’ve already had more than 280 homeowners attend virtual co-op sessions. Sixty-nine families have already had their roofs screened, verified as viable for solar, and they have joined the Co-op.

This June, we’ll continue with 3 additional information sessions. Please RSVP and join us to learn more:

  • June 23 — 6 p.m. Info Session link
  • June 26 — 12 p.m. Info Session link
  • June 30 — 12 p.m. Battery Storage 101 link

For those who  may not be familiar, the Co-op  helps Arlingtonians buy solar panels and EV chargers at a discounted price through bulk purchasing. The Co-op also provides support to participants to make the purchasing process easy. This year we will also provide information about storing your solar power at home in battery systems.

You can also take advantage of one of the last big federal solar tax credits. This year the solar tax credit will be 26 percent. In 2021, it will be 22 percent and in 2022 and beyond, it won’t be available for homeowners at all.

As you quarantine at home, use this opportunity to learn more about solar power, electric vehicle charging and solar battery storage. Take action today to help our community be carbon neutral by 2050.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

In a time of great change, Arlingtonians are empowered to plug into solar.

Over the past few weeks, 280 Arlingtonians have attended 3 info sessions on Arlington’s Solar and EV Charger Co-op. Forty one families have already had their roofs screened, verified as viable for solar, and they have joined the Co-op.

In the 5+ years of the Co-op we’ve never seen interest this strong nor had the Co-op launch so quickly. Thank you!

The Co-op is moving toward the next step, the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process in which the solar vendors are selected.

Arlingtonians can still join the Co-op to have their roofs screened at no cost or obligation. There are 3 months left to join the co-op as it will close in August 2020.

You can also take advantage of one of the last big federal solar tax credits. This year the solar tax credit will be 26 percent. In 2021, it will be 22 percent and in 2022 and beyond, it won’t be available for homeowners at all.

Thank you Arlington for your interest and action. For others that are still interested, click below to learn more and join the co-op:

Join the co-op to have your roof screened

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

We hope you are safe and well at home. To learn more about protecting yourself from COVID-19, please visit the County’s COVID-19 page.

Due to the need to remain at home, we are announcing our first virtual solar and electric vehicle (EV) co-op session.

More than 200 homeowners have already participated in our Solar and Electric Vehicle Charger Co-op. The cooperative helps Arlingtonians buy solar and EV chargers at a discounted price through bulk purchasing. The cooperative also provides support to participants to make the purchasing process easy. This year we will also provide information about storing your solar power at home in battery systems.

You can also take advantage of one of the last big federal solar tax credits. This year the solar tax credit will be 26 percent. In 2021, it will be 22 percent and in 2022 and beyond, it won’t be available for homeowners at all.

Being stuck at home is an opportune time to learn more about solar, electric vehicle charging and solar battery storage. Help our community reach carbon neutral by 2050.

Please RSVP and join us for an information session to learn more:

April 27: 12 p.m. Info Session link
Facebook event link

April 2812 p.m. Battery Storage 101 link
Facebook event link

April 30: 6 p.m. Info Session link
Facebook event link

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

The Arlington County Board approved a partnership with Dominion Energy Virginia to purchase power from a new solar farm in southern Virginia.

The facility is expected to generate more than 80 percent of the electricity used annually for all County buildings, streetlights, traffic signals, water pumping and wastewater treatment.

Exactly how much solar does it take to do this? The solar farm will be about 475 acres!

Try this new calculator to compare how big Arlington’s portion of the solar farm will be compared to your civic association. Douglas Park is the closest civic association in size to the solar farm.

The agreement will not require any capital funding or upfront costs from the County. The project will have no impact on customer rates.

Interested in solar for your home or business?  Email us at [email protected] and we’ll let you know when the next solar co-op launches.

A very special thank you to Michele and Mathias Hansen at the Arlington-Based Geocodio for helping to make this microsite possible!

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Morning Notes

It’s ARLnow’s 10th Anniversary — On this day 10 years ago ARLnow quietly published its first article. It has since grown to be Arlington’s local news publication of record, read by a majority of those who call our county home. Join us to celebrate this milestone tonight at Bronson Bierhall in Ballston (4100 Fairfax Drive) from 5-7 p.m. [Facebook]

County Board Approves Solar Farm Deal — “‘This is a groundbreaking partnership for the County,’ said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. ‘It will take us a long way toward our goal of 100 percent use of renewable sources for all electricity used in government operations by 2025.’ Arlington County is the first locality in the Commonwealth to enter into a power purchase agreement of this scale for off-site solar energy with an investor-owned utility company.” [Arlington County, Dominion Energy]

Local Pharmacies Selling Out of Surgical Masks — Preston’s Pharmacy at 5101 Lee Highway is sold out of surgical masks amid worries about the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The store “reported that people are calling, and coming in asking about surgical masks… they are having re-ordering issues from their supplier.” [WUSA 9]

Investors Buying Up Crystal City Properties — “In another indicator of how sought-after the real estate near Amazon’s HQ2 has become, even an NBA player with no ties to Greater Washington is an investor in the Crystal City market. Jeff Teague, a point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, bought a 935-square-foot apartment at 1200 Crystal Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Home Sales Way Down in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. reports the median price of a home that sold in Arlington County in December was $649,000. That’s up 19% from the median selling price a year earlier. The number of sales in Arlington County was down 24% from a year ago, and, with only 148 homes on the market last month, active inventory was down 51%.” [WTOP]

Another Title for Local Girls Flag Football Team — “Congratulations to the [Arlington-based] Virginia Hurricanes 14U girls flag football team for winning the NFL Flag Football National Championship tournament at the NFL Pro Bowl event in Florida this past weekend. This is the second NFL Flag Girls National Championship title for the Hurricanes.” [Virginia Hurricanes]

Chamber Holds Hospitality Awards — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce today honored 98 front-line workers in Arlington’s hospitality industry at the 16th Annual Hospitality Awards at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel. These prestigious awards are presented each year to hospitality workers who deliver outstanding customer service, exhibit excellence in their roles, and continuously exceed their job descriptions.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

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Arlington County is set to take a big step toward meeting some of its ambitious renewable energy goals.

The county, which is working to become carbon-neutral by 2050, is joining Amazon in purchasing power from a new solar array in rural Virginia. The County Board is set to vote tonight on purchasing 31.7 percent of the output of a planned, 120 megawatt facility — dubbed the “Amazon Arlington Solar Farm Virginia” — in Pittsylvania County.

“The proposed agreement would support construction of a significant solar electricity-generating installation on tree-less rural land,” says a county staff report. “Dominion Energy Virginia (DEV) acquired the project from Open Road Renewables, and the project has all necessary local permits… After construction is completed, the project is scheduled to produce electricity beginning in 2022.”

Amazon will purchase the rest of remainder of the solar farm’s output, helping it to meet its renewable energy goals for HQ2.

More from the county staff report:

Arlington will purchase 31.7 percent of the energy produced by the solar farm, or about 79 million kWh annually. In a separate transaction, Amazon is purchasing 68.3 percent of the energy produced. The broad scope of Arlington County government operations – buildings, streetlights, traffic signals, water pumping and wastewater treatment – consumes about 95 million kWh per year. Thus, the energy production purchased by the County from this project represents approximately 83 percent of the total amount of electricity used by County government each year.

The outcome of this agreement advances key Arlington County policy goals. On September 21, 2019, the Arlington County Board adopted a revised Community Energy Plan (CEP) as one of eleven elements of the Comprehensive Plan. Goal 3 of that Plan is to Increase Arlington’s Renewable Energy Resources, and Policy 3.1 states “Government operations will achieve 50% Renewable Electricity by 2022, and 100% Renewable Electricity by 2025.

This power purchase agreement would not only surpass the County government 2022 renewable electricity milestone, but also substantially satisfies the 2025 goal of 100 percent renewable electricity for County operations. Closing the remaining gap (less than 20 percent of our electricity use) will involve a combination of onsite solar installations, reduction in electricity needs through energy efficiency, and perhaps a supplemental agreement for additional offsite renewable energy.

There will be no upfront costs for the county and county staff expects the solar power to be no more expensive than the county’s existing electricity, thanks to some of the power generated by the solar farm being sold wholesale into the electrical grid. Staff says there’s a possibility, depending on market dynamics, that the solar power could be up to $100,000 more or less expensive annually.

“Staff confidence in the financial prudence of this agreement is based on due diligence performed in terms of understanding the wholesale power market in general (and in Virginia in particular); consideration of key factors affecting future wholesale power prices; and the use of an analysis of wholesale price projections for Virginia from a third-party expert,” the staff report says.

The Board is expected to approve the agreement with Dominion Energy at its Tuesday night meeting.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Nothing motivates like a deadline, right?  If you’ve been thinking about solar, today is the time to act.

Act now to join the Arlington Solar and EV Co-op before the end of tomorrow (November, 30). 

Homeowners don’t need to purchase a solar system or electric vehicle charger by November 30. Rather, this deadline is to sign up for a no-cost and no-obligation solar assessment of your home. Meeting the deadline also guarantees that you can purchase solar at the discount offered only to the co-op members by the installer.

Get started by providing some basic information on the Solar United Neighbors website. Folks interested in solar will receive a no-obligation roof screening and project proposal.

The Federal tax credit is gradually phasing out between now and 2022. Next year, the solar tax credit will be reduced to 26 percent. In 2021, it will be 22 percent and in 2022 and beyond, per the existing legislation, it will no longer be available to homeowners.

More than 160 Arlington  homeowners have previously installed solar in our Solar and Electric Vehicle Co-op. The cooperative helps Arlingtonians buy solar and EV chargers at a discounted price. The cooperative also provides support to participants to make the purchasing process easy.

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