This is the first post in a two-part series. The second post will focus on the Potomac Solar Co-op, currently open for Arlington residents interested in purchasing solar at a discount rate. For now, past is prologue.
Solar has been the energy source of the future for decades. Since at least the 1990s, we’ve all been waiting for solar panels to make the one last technological breakthrough that makes it cost-competitive. It’s always been a few years away.
Wait no longer, folks. Solar is here.
At the end of 2014, Virginia SUN launched a solar co-op in Arlington, offering residents a chance to purchase solar panels as a group. Arlington’s Initiative to Rethink Energy and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment helped support and promote the co-op, which ran through most of 2015.
A solar co-op works using the principle of bulk purchasing. Customers were able to purchase their solar panels at about a 30% discount compared to going it alone. The solar systems themselves cost less than half of what they would have just 5 years ago. Virginia SUN also provided guidance throughout the entire process – we’re all frustrated when contractors give confusing information or we feel overcharged.
Ultimately, nearly 300 Arlingtonians had their roofs screened, and of the 130 or so good candidates, 34 folks ended up installing solar systems. With their panels in place, Arlington’s solar co-op participants are reaping the benefits of lower (or nonexistent) electricity bills and a lighter carbon footprint for years to come.
If interested, enter your information near the bottom of this page to have your roof screened for solar panels. Also, check back in a two weeks for part two of our series on solar.
Big Changes Planned for Ballston Church — The Central United Methodist Church at 4201 Fairfax Drive in Ballston is planning a complete redevelopment of its 30,000 square foot property. Preliminary plans have been filed to build “a new church, a new preschool space, and a seven-story, 132-unit apartment building — 60 percent market-rate and 40 percent dedicated affordable.” [Washington Business Journal]
McAuliffe Signs Bills at Wakefield HS — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed two pieces of education legislation at Wakefield High School yesterday, as pictured above. The new laws “will lead to an overhaul of the state’s high school graduation requirements, aiming to make high school more relevant to the working world” and better supporting students who start a career after high school. [Washington Post, Twitter]
Reagan Airport Bridge Closed This Weekend — Starting at 11 p.m. tonight, through early Monday morning, drivers heading to Reagan National Airport will not be able to access it via the Route 233 bridge over Jefferson Davis Highway. Ongoing construction prompted the planned closure. [Patch]
Solar House for Sale — A “one-of-a-kind luxury home” is for sale in Cherrydale. The five-bedroom house features a 10KW photovoltaic solar panel array, an energy recovery ventilation system, two-story screened porch, two-car garage, third floor loft with wet bar, a 560 square foot rooftop deck, exercise room with yoga/MMA flooring and an outdoor shower. It’s listed at just under $1.9 million. [Truplace]
Reminder: Chamber Hosts Candidate Forum Monday — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is hosting a County Board candidate forum this coming Monday. The forum, featuring a discussion of topics important to the Arlington business community, is taking place from 6-8 p.m. at the Rosslyn Hyatt (1325 Wilson Boulevard). Democrats Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall, and independent Audrey Clement, are set to participate in the forum, which will be moderated by ARLnow.com editor Scott Brodbeck. Tickets are $10. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Photo via Arlington County
Reward Paid for Bank Robbery Tip — Arlington County Crime Solvers has paid a reward for a tip received that led to the arrest of a bank robbery suspect. The tipster called a 1-800 number to leave a tip after seeing a press release about the Dec. 6 robbery at Capital One Bank in Ballston Common Mall. [Arlington County]
Williamsburg Middle School Closed Monday — Williamsburg Middle School was closed Monday due to a pipe that burst over the weekend, damaging part of the school. [WUSA 9]
‘CoworkCafe’ Launches in Clarendon — A new coworking space concept called CoworkCafe has launched in the lounge next to Boccato Gelato in Clarendon. For $150-200 per month, those seeking to get work done can access the lounge as often as they like. They also get a $50 credit toward food and beverage. [Washington Business Journal]
Solar Co-Op Launching in Arlington — A group of Arlington residents is banding together to form a solar co-op, which will allow members to obtain bulk discounts on the purchase and installation of home solar power equipment. [Sun Gazette, Virginia Sun]
‘Soulless’ Tweeter Spotted in Arlington — Byron Tau, the Wall Street Journal reporter who asked last week if Arlington was the “most soulless place in the United States,” was photographed over the weekend smiling widely at Courthouse’s Fire Works Pizza. “No comment on the record,” Tau tweeted in response to the photo. [Twitter]
Reminder: Pothole, Water Main Break Reporting — As the freeze, thaw, refreeze cycle continues during the month of February, numerous water main breaks and large potholes have been reported around Arlington. If you spot one that needs to be fixed, you can quickly file a report about it via the following “report a problem” online form. [Arlington County]
Veterans Day Ceremony in Clarendon — Members of local American Legion posts gathered at the Clarendon War Memorial on Monday to dedicate a temporary plaque bearing the name of six fallen servicemembers who hailed from Arlington. [Patch]
Fewer Trains Makes for Crowded Commute — Metro commuters who had to work on Veterans Days experienced delays and crowding due to Metro running on a reduced holiday service schedule. [Washington Post]
Parents Keep Pushing for FLES — Parents whose children are in elementary schools that don’t yet have the Foreign Language in Elementary School program are keeping up the pressure on school and county officials. “Despite paying the same tax rate… we are not receiving the same education,” said one Taylor Elementary parent. FLES provides elementary students with just over two hours of Spanish language education a week. [Sun Gazette]
Solar Lab at Va. Tech Ballston Building — In addition to helping to lower energy costs for the building, a solar panel array on the top of the Virginia Tech Research Center in Ballston is serving as a laboratory for graduate students. [Virginia Tech]
Krusinski Case Goes to Trial — The case against Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the former chief of the U.S. Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch who was accused of grabbing the breasts and buttocks of a woman in Crystal City, goes to trial today. A jury is expected to start hearing arguments in the case this morning.
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Pentagon City Elevator Contract Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a contract to design a second elevator for the busy Pentagon City Metro station. The estimated $5.1 million elevator construction project has already received $4.5 million in federal funding. [Arlington County]
Arlington’s Roads Rate ‘Poor’ — More than one third of Arlington County’s 974 mile street network is in “poor” condition, based on the county’s own assessment. The reason for the poor road conditions may lie with spending. The county has been spending significantly less on paving than the amount recommended by its top streets official. [Patch]
Board Considers Solar at Supermarkets — County Board members say they’ll consider a Green Party proposal to either force or encourage supermarkets to install solar power arrays on their roof. The solar power could help refrigerate food during power outages. [Sun Gazette]
Maywood Neighborhood Profiled — The historic Maywood neighborhood of Arlington is “endearing and peaceful” and “extremely friendly,” according to a radio profile. [WAMU]
Renovations Revealed at Crystal City Hotel — Last week the 343-room Crystal City Marriott officially unveiled its $7 million redesign, which included new common areas like a new bar/restaurant and a new fitness center. [Marriott]
Flickr pool photo by Lifeinthedistrict
The 250 panels on the roof of the building are expected to save the library $14,000 per year.
The project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, through a grant administered by the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Henry Kelly of the U.S. Department of Energy, who lives in Arlington, said clean energy plans help to create jobs.
Kelly said, “Investing in clean energy is an integral part of the economic recovery process.”
Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Mary Hynes said the timing of the unveiling is fitting, considering October is National Energy Awareness month. She also wants more green initiatives to spread throughout Arlington.
Hynes said, “I hope this is the first of many opportunities to add solar to our buildings.”
The Central Library plans to continue its push for a greener community by installing a Capital Bikeshare station in front of the Quincy St. entrance. The goal is to have that in place by next spring.
Historic ‘Arlington Oak’ Toppled — A historic tree in Arlington National Cemetery is now firewood thanks to Hurricane Irene. The cemetery revealed last night that the ‘Arlington Oak’ at the Kennedy gravesite had been knocked down by the storm’s high winds and steady rains. “That tree had a significant legacy here,” said a cemetery official. [CBS News]
Firefighters Collecting for MDA — Arlington’s firefighters are out “filling the boot” at busy intersections to collect money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. A medic crew was out at the intersection of Glebe Road and Columbia Pike last night, and the crew from Engine 109 was spotted out in the Shirlington area, among others. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Are Arlington’s Green Grants Worth It? — Arlington received $3.2 million in federal green energy grants in 2009, according to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. But was it worth it? One of the grants — $300,000 — was spent to place solar panels on the roof of the Arlington Central Library, a move expected to save some $150,000 over 10-15 years. The Journal opines that it may not be the best investment to give “one of the five wealthiest counties in America free money.” [Wall Street Journal]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Workers were busy installing 250 solar panels on the roof of Arlington Central Library today.
The 60 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system will save the library $14,000 in peak electricity costs every year and will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 100,000 pounds annually, officials say.
“As part of Fresh AIRE (Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions), the new solar photovoltaic system will contribute to Arlington’s goal to reduce the County government greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2012,” the county said in a press release. “Central Library is an ideal facility for a solar photovoltaic system, due to its large, flat roof that can easily collect sunlight, coupled with previous AIRE energy efficiency improvements.”
The project was funded entirely by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy. The system will take about two months to install, weather-permitting.
The bill will create a “Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund,” which will distribute affordable 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. “We all recognize the need to increase the use of renewable energy resources and my legislation will make the environmental choice a more affordable choice for Virginians.”
The bill received support from both utility companies and environmental groups.
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.