Virginia’s Dominion Energy solar program is offering rooftop solar installations at no cost to elderly and low-income households, slashing their power bills. Rooted in legislation, the program pairs with energy efficiency upgrades to ensure optimized savings and ecological benefits.
Dominion Energy's groundbreaking solar initiative is making waves in Virginia. Aimed at the elderly and low-income households, it offers a genuine opportunity for residents to embrace clean energy without bearing the financial burden.
Rachel Brown, once a quilt store owner from Augusta County, initially approached the program with caution. Her reassurance came from her nephew, Everett Brubaker, an outreach specialist at Community Housing Partners, who confirmed the program's legitimacy. Buoyed by this affirmation, Brown had a 12-panel, 5-kilowatt system installed on her roof by SunDay Solar. This new setup is expected to slash her power bills by at least a third.
The value of the initiative is not lost on Brubaker, who recognizes the significant financial relief it brings to those on a fixed income, like his aunt. His organization collaborates with various nonprofits to offer essential weatherization services, fostering greater affordability, safety, and well-being in homes across the state.
However, Dominion's solar program didn't materialize out of thin air. It was born from the Income and Age Qualifying Solar program, part of the 2019 HB 2789 legislation introduced by Del. Israel O’Quinn. The legislation called upon Dominion and Appalachian Power to launch pilot programs promoting energy efficiency and solar benefits for the elderly and low-income demographics. The State Corporation Commission subsequently set the program's parameters in 2021.
To date, Dominion, along with its collaborators, has successfully assisted 116 households, with many more on the horizon. These solar projects, ranging from 3 kW to 5 kW, come with a 25-year warranty, covering maintenance and repairs. As emphasized by Dominion spokesperson Jeremy Slayton, every kilowatt installed plays a crucial role in furthering the reach of renewable energy, especially in less-accessible areas.
According to Energy News Network, a unique facet of this program is the mandate for homes to undergo an energy efficiency overhaul prior to the solar installation. This ensures the homes are primed to maximize the benefits of their new solar setups. Brown experienced this firsthand when her home in Verona, built in the early 1970s, received an energy audit from the Local Energy Alliance Program, which improved insulation and sealed potential leaks.
Beyond just savings, Brown sees her solar panels as environmental touchstones. She hopes they will inspire her 13-year-old granddaughter, Emma Rose, and instill in her the values of ecological stewardship. Following the seismic shifts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown's commitment to planetary conservation deepened. Now, with her solar installation in place, she hopes to encourage skeptical friends and neighbors to join her in this sustainable journey. To the naysayers expecting hidden charges, she happily reports not having spent a single penny.
As the Dominion Energy solar program unfolds, it's more than just an energy initiative; it's a testament to the harmonious blend of community, sustainability, and trust in Virginia.
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