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.
Congratulations to Our Lady Queen of Peace for installing 319 solar panels to harness the sun and reduce their carbon emissions!
They are thinking globally while acting locally with what is now the largest solar array at a place of worship in Arlington County.
Actions like this continue to shine a light on how one simple action can inspire others and contribute to a broader collective impact. This project adds 95 kilowatts of solar power to help move our community a bit closer to Arlington’s Community Energy Plan goals.
Arlington residential, commercial and County governmental solar installations are adding up. Since 2009 solar capacity in Arlington has increased by more than 900%.
To date, the total amount of solar in Arlington is 1.8 MW. Arlington’s current Community Energy Plan goal is 160 MW by 2050. Every installation helps our us move the (sun) dial on solar.
The Rethink Energy Program’s Solar Co-op has supported more than 150 homeowners to install solar at a discount. Co-op installations, in addition to County Government and Arlington Public Schools solar installations, account for much of the solar growth in Arlington.
The Rethink Energy Program plans to launch another Solar + EV Charging Co-op this summer. If you want to be notified when the program launches please email: [email protected]
A Catholic church is Nauck is making a big move to solar power, installing a large, cross-shaped set of solar panels over the last few weeks.
Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church, located at 2700 19th Street S. on the border of the Army Navy Country Club, announced what it described as “the largest solar array at a place of worship” in Arlington in a press release yesterday (Tuesday).
The church says the new solar array includes 319 panels in all, generating a total of “over 95 kilowatts of solar capacity.” That should help the church account for just under half of all its power needs across its buildings on the property.
Parishioners at Our Lady Queen of Peace said they were inspired to take on the solar project by Pope Francis’ efforts to spur Catholics to take action on climate change, in addition to recent warnings from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change that countries around the world must take drastic steps to prevent the worst effects of global warming.
“We wanted to try to get as much energy as we can from a renewable source,” church parishioner Luc DeWolf wrote in a statement.
The church is working with the D.C.-based firm Ipsun Solar on the project. According to the company’s blog, an investor will provide the $233,000 in up-front costs for the project, then the church plans to sell back excess energy generated by the panels to Dominion Energy. The church hopes to then pay back that investor with the cash it raises through that process, and even support its operating budget going forward.
Parishioners project that in the solar array’s first year alone, it will “reduce carbon emissions by an amount equal to preventing nearly half a railcar of coal from being burned.”
Our Lady Queen Peace will hold a reception Saturday (March 9) at 10 a.m. for anyone interested in learning more about the solar project.
Photo 2 via Ipsun Solar
Arlington County Prepares for Winter Weather — Though a winter storm this weekend is looking increasingly unlikely for the area, Arlington County says it is preparing for a snowy winter and “will be ready to fight back” against snow and ice. [Arlington County]
More Solar Panels for APS — “Arlington County Public Schools signed a contract on Thursday night that they say will save them millions of dollars. Five of their schools will be made over with solar panels as part of a power purchase agreement, or PPA, with a Charlottesville, Virginia firm called Sun Tribe Solar.” [WUSA 9]
Fire at Ledo Pizza — Firefighters responded to an electrical fire at the Ledo Pizza restaurant in the Red Lion hotel in Rosslyn yesterday. The fire was extinguished by a sprinkler system. [Twitter]
Amazon, Pentagon City and Housing — Most or even all of Amazon’s permanent presence in Arlington could actually be in Pentagon City, not Crystal City. That presents an opportunity to add more housing, including affordable housing, in Pentagon City. [Greater Greater Washington]
American May Add Flights at DCA — “American Airlines is closely ‘studying’ online retailer Amazon’s plans to open a second headquarters steps away from its hub at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport, where it is already planning to add seats at the slot-controlled facility. ‘We absolutely plan to upgauge at DCA,’ the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier’s vice-president of network Vasu Raja tells FlightGlobal.” [FlightGlobal]
Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration — “On Saturday, December 8, approximately 300 people are expected to pour into Saint Agnes Catholic Church’s Parish Hall in Arlington to celebrate the anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Mother to Juan Diego on December 12, 1531. Following the Mass, there will be a candle lit procession with some of the faithful carrying a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, followed by praying the rosary, and a potluck dinner with live entertainment -a mariachi band!” [Diocese of Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler
Arlington ranks as one of the most sustainably powered localities in the country, according to a new study, thanks to its large share of energy-efficient buildings and bevy of electric vehicle options.
Commercial Cafe, a blog tracking commercial real estate trends, ranked Arlington 15th in the country in a new study of America’s greenest cities.
The group awarded localities points based on how much they rely on sustainable forms of energy, like wind, solar and hydropower, and docked points for how much carbon dioxide they generate, or how much they rely on traditional energy sources like coal and natural gas.
Arlington scored poorly when it came the total amount of greenhouses gases the county generates, but made up for those poor marks with its high numbers of commuters who bike or walk to work, and large number of electric vehicle charging stations.
Additionally, Arlington ranked seventh in the country with one of the highest shares of office buildings that are LEED-certified for energy efficiency by the U.S. Green Building Council. Of the county’s 452 buildings, Commercial Cafe found that 106 have LEED certifications, with another eight on the way that are set to meet that specification.
Overall, San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland took the top three spots in the company’s rankings, while D.C. placed ninth.
ARLnow’s Eighth Birthday — Today is the eighth anniversary of the founding of ARLnow.com. Here is our first post ever.
Sexual Harassment FOIA Folo — In a follow-up to our FOIA request seeking any records of sexual harassment or assault allegations against senior Arlington officials since 2000 — no such records were found — we asked about any such cases, against any county employee, that were handled by the County Attorney’s office over the past decade. The response from the county’s FOIA officer: “There are no records responsive to your request because no such cases exist.” The last publicly reported case was that against an Arlington police officer in 2007.
Vihstadt Launches Re-election Bid — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt made it official last night: he is running for re-election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has picked up at least one Democratic challenger so far. However, he again has the backing of a number of prominent Democrats, including fellow Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Treasurer Carla de la Pava. [InsideNova]
County Accepts Millions in Grant Funds — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $17.85 million in grant funding from three transportation entities that will be used for transit, bridge renovation and transportation capital projects in the County.” Among the projects is a new west entrance for the Ballston Metro station. [Arlington County]
County Board Accepts Immigration Donation — “The Arlington County Board today accepted a resident’s anonymous donation for a Citizenship Scholarship to help Arlingtonians pay the $725 federal application fee charged to those seeking to become U.S. citizens.” [Arlington County]
Man Convicted of 7-Eleven Robberies — A man arrested last year for a string of robberies has been convicted by a federal jury of three armed robberies and an armed carjacking. Among the crimes were two armed robberies of 7-Eleven stores in Arlington. [Alexandria News]
Arlington Lauded for Solar Program — The U.S. Department of Energy has named Arlington County a “SolSmart” community “for making it faster, easier and more affordable for Arlington homes and businesses to go solar.” [Twitter, Arlington County]
Flickr photo by John Sonderman
Arlington Public Schools plans to add solar panels to five school buildings, including the soon-to-be-built Alice West Fleet Elementary School.
APS issued a Request for Proposals on December 1, calling for companies to bid to install solar panels at Kenmore and Thomas Jefferson Middle Schools, Tuckahoe and Fleet Elementary Schools and Washington-Lee High School.
Fleet Elementary School will be built on the site of Thomas Jefferson, and is projected to be open in September 2019.
In the call for proposals, APS said it is seeking to be increasingly environmentally friendly in construction projects and its existing buildings, and hopes the panels will help it keep up with its schools’ energy demands.
“APS stresses energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in the design of all construction and maintenance projects,” it reads. “APS is aware of the energy and environmental advantages of solar power and has multiple buildings used as schools for all age groups and administrative offices which appear to have design characteristics which make them appropriate for the installation of [solar panels] which will produce electric power to meet, or contribute to meeting, the power needs of APS.”
The successful bidder would install the solar panels, and operate and maintain them under a lease agreement with APS for a minimum of 15 years. APS said the winning company would also be responsible for all installation and maintenance costs, but would pay rent of $1 a year for the panels.
Proposals are due on March 19, 2018. The RFP comes months after Kenmore was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.
A local co-op formed earlier this year to drive down the cost of home solar installation selected two providers to install the panels.
A spokesman for the co-op said the two firms were selected because of their competitive pricing, quality components and warranties available.
According to Solar Power Rocks, a firm that provides guidance on solar power for all 50 states and D.C., installing a 5-kW solar panel system on a house in Virginia can cost homeowners just over $18,000. Over the course of 25 years, the firm estimates it will have produced $16,000 in income from energy savings. Co-op members can save up to 20 percent on installation costs as they buy as a group in bulk.
The chosen installers will now develop personalized proposals for each co-op member, who will then review that proposal and decide if the panels are suitable for them. Being a co-op member does not mean a commitment to buying panels. New members are being accepted until October 1 from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County.
“We’re are excited to be working with Greater Arlington residents to help them go solar at a great price” Niko Eckart, owner of Independent Solar Solutions, said in a statement.
“We’re incredibly honored to be part of this co-op and are excited to see the solar momentum build in Northern Virginia,” Jonathan Gellings, a solar analyst at Sigora Solar, added.
The group is partnered with Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods, the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment to help educate and recruit members about going solar. Co-op members can save up to 20 percent off the cost of going solar by doing so in a group.
More than 80 people have already gone solar in similar schemes, and the current cohort said the process of finding providers was helped by working as a group.
“As someone who has considered installing [solar panels] several times over the past few years, I can say with certitude that working through the co-op was far easier than interviewing installers on my own,” said co-op member Jessica Olson in a statement. “The co-op is a great way to make an informed decision on a significant investment. We’re really excited to work with our installer and see how much I can save with my system.”
Kenmore Middle School was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.
A 1.2 kilowatt panel will be installed on the school’s roof to convert sunlight into electricity, with real-time data displays to help classroom learning. It is estimated the panel will generate enough electricity to power 18 desktop computers, or 15 42-inch LED TVs.
In addition to the panel, the program comes with technical support, training for teachers and educational materials that will enable students to monitor, track and learn about solar power production.
In June 2015, Dominion Energy partnered with the nonprofit National Energy Education Development Project to launch the program. The program is for Virginia students, teachers and communities in areas served by Dominion, and gives them hands-on experience with solar power.
Kenmore will share the $150,000 solar panel grant with schools across Virginia and the Children’s Museum in Richmond, having been selected from 35 applicants statewide. Jeff Politzer, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) teacher at Kenmore, helped apply for the grant.
“We started the process months ago and then we had to meet with people form Arlington County,” he said. “We did a site supervise, we did a walk through. We wanted to see what location would be best.”
Around 750 students gathered in the school’s auditorium today to learn about their gift.
Scott Reamy, external affairs manager at Dominion Energy, built up to the announcement by having the students guess what the surprise was.
“I want to see if you all can figure it out,” he said. “It was created in 1958. It’s been to space and back.”
“Solar panels!” shouted a student in the back of the room.
The solar panel has not yet been installed at the school. At the event, officials had no further information on when the school can expect its new panel to be added.
A new local co-op has been formed to drive down the cost of home solar installation.
The Greater Arlington Solar Co-op is holding two free information sessions this week, in Arlington and Alexandria, to educate the public about solar and the benefits of joining their group. Co-op members can save up to 20 percent off the cost of going solar by doing so in a group.
“We’re forming this co-op to make saving money with solar energy as simple as possible,” said Chris Somers, community energy specialist at AIRE, in a statement. “Working with the group helps members learn about the technology so they feel confident in their decision to go solar.”
Joining the group is not a commitment to purchase solar panels. Once the group is large enough, it will solicit bids from local installers and select the best proposal for the group. The chosen installer will then develop personalized proposals for each co-op member, who review the plan.
The information sessions are taking place Wednesday at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd Suite 210) and Thursday at The Pavilion at Mark Center (5708 Merton Court) in Alexandria, both starting at 7 p.m.
McAuliffe Visits New District Brewing — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) made a “quick stop” at New District Brewing near Shirlington yesterday, touring the brewery and posing for photos. [Twitter, Twitter]
Caps Continue Playoff Fan Activities — For their Round 2 playoff matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals are continuing a series of fan activities, including free yoga classes and viewings of team practices, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [Washington Capitals]
County Gets Planning Award — Arlington County is one of a dozen recipients of the American Planning Association’s Gold 2017 National Planning Achievement Award. “County government and the community have together built Arlington into one of the nation’s best places to live, work or play,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. [Arlington County]
APS Pushes Solar Power — “Clearing a legal hurdle that may affect other Virginia school systems, Arlington Public Schools has created a new type of purchasing authority so it may enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar power.” [Blue Virginia]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
New LED Crossing Guard Signs — VDOT is giving Arlington County a $880 grant that will allow it to purchase four new LED-illuminated paddle signs for crossing guards. The new signs will show “‘slow’ on one side and ‘stop’ on the other… when illuminated, they are visible up to one mile away.” The County Board is expected to accept the grant at its Saturday meeting. [Arlington County]
County Board to Make Car-Sharing Permanent — On Saturday the Arlington County Board is expected to vote to make car-sharing systems permanent in county code. Earlier this year the Board authorized trips between Arlington and D.C. for car-share provider Car2Go. The move has significantly boosted Car2Go’s usage in Arlington. [UrbanTurf]
Discovery Elementary’s Net Zero Goal — Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy recently toured Arlington’s new Discovery Elementary school. The school was built to be a Net Zero Energy building, meaning that it produces more energy than it uses. The school’s solar panel array cost $1.5 million but is expected to pay for itself in about 10 years. [WJLA]
Man Sentenced for Sneaking Into U.S., Again — A Guatemalan man who has a colorful history of sneaking into the U.S., being deported, and trying to come back again, has been sentenced to jail time. Juan Abel Belteton-Barrios, 46, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release. [Patch]
Why East Falls Church? — GGW has a primer on his history and geography of the various Northern Virginia locales with “Falls Church” in the name or postal address, including Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood. [Greater Greater Washington]
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