Going Solar in Fairfax County | Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination – Fairfax County (.gov)

4 minutes, 2 seconds Read

Cost and Financing

Your electricity bill is based on how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity you use. Most homes use between 800 kWh and 1,500 kWh each month depending on weather, home size, energy efficiency and how many electric appliances are used.

The price of solar electricity is typically expressed in terms of dollars per watt of installed power. Typical pricing for residential systems is in the range of $2.50 to $4.00 per watt, depending on the size and market economics. A 5 kilowatt (5 kW) solar system will produce about 8,000 kWh of electricity per year. At $3 per watt, that system would cost about $15,000 to install. 

By reducing electricity costs and taking advantage of tax incentives, the $15,000 investment can pay for itself in about 10-15 years.

Residential solar panels can be purchased outright or financed with a loan from a solar installer, bank, or other financial institution.

Solar Group Purchasing Programs

Solar group purchasing programs make getting solar easier and less expensive by providing information and benefits to participants. These programs typically offer:

  • A free assessment to find out whether your home is a good candidate for solar installation 
  • Bulk discounts on solar systems, ranging from 10 to 15 percent off 
  • Access to a qualified solar installer 
  • Discounted opportunities to bundle your solar system with electric vehicle charging stations and solar battery storage 

Additionally, some programs offer participants a complimentary, virtual home energy assessment to help improve their home energy performance holistically. Those who decide to pursue solar through a co-op purchasing program typically receive a 10 to 15 percent discount off current consumer rates for solar arrays and systems. 

solarize VA logo Solarize VA: This program is run by the nonprofit Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP-VA). Since 2014, 1,015 Virginia households have made the switch to solar through Solarize Virginia, generating more than 9.2 MW of solar capacity. In 2022 alone, 299 Virginia residents went solar through Solarize,188 of which were in Northern Virginia. More information is available at the Solarize VA website.

capital area solar switch logo

Capital Area Solar Switch: This program is run by the national nonprofit Solar United Neighbors (SUN) and is available to people living in and around the DC area. More information is available at the Capital Area Solar Switch website.

Incentives, Tax Credits and Assistance Programs

County Incentives

Fairfax County offers a number of incentives to encourage residents and businesses to install solar panels. The county’s Land Development Services waives the permit fee for solar permit applications, and the county’s Department of Tax Administration provides a 5-year solar energy equipment tax exemption.  To learn about the permitting and inspection process, refer to Land Development Services’ page about Residential Solar Permits.

Federal Tax Credits

The federal government currently offers a tax credit for solar PV system installation, to include the costs of the solar panels, contractor labor costs, balance-of-system equipment, and energy storage devices. Systems installed between 2022 and 2032 are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit. The credit will decrease to 26 percent for systems installed in 2033, to 22 percent for systems installed in 2034, and the credit will expire in 2035 unless renewed by Congress. The installation of the system must be complete during the tax year, and there is no maximum amount that can be claimed. 

For more information on tax credits see: Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics | Department of Energy

Assistance Programs

Dominion Energy’s Income and Age Qualifying Program: This program, available to eligible customers in Dominion’s Virginia service territory, offers incentives for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The program includes a 25-year warranty for maintenance and repairs at no cost to low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals who qualify.

Solar Rights

Under Virginia state law (§56-594), residential customers may install systems up to 20 kilowatts and non-residential customers may install systems up to 500 kilowatts. Electric utilities must credit solar panel owners for excess electricity generated through something called “net metering.” Your solar contractor should coordinate with your electric utility to replace your standard meter with a net meter after your panels are installed. The net meter is bi-directional, tracking electrons flowing both out of and into the grid. 

Under Virginia state law (§55.1-1820.1), homeowner associations (HOAs) typically cannot prohibit solar installations. However, the law allows “reasonable restrictions concerning the size, place, and manner of placement.” For more information refer to this Solarize webpage or talk to your solar installer. 

Under Virginia state law (§55-353), property owners can form solar easements with their neighbors. A solar easement enables you and a neighbor to voluntarily form an agreement under which the neighbor will not shade your property. The easement then applies to later owners of the neighboring property.

County Solar Policies and Processes

Solar panels are permitted accessory structures on all developed properties in Fairfax County provided that they serve the property and are subordinate in purpose, area and extent to the building or use served. For more information, refer to the last entry on the Department of Planning and Zoning’s FAQ page.

More Resources

This post was originally published on 3rd party site mentioned in the title of this site

Similar Posts