More than three years into a groundbreaking agreement, this spring should bring solar power to one of Fairfax County’s facilities for the first time ever.
The county had 30 sites lined up for solar panels under a power purchase agreement (PPA) initiative that was touted the biggest ever undertaken by a Virginia locality when it was announced in December 2019.
Then, lease negotiations with the company contracted to install and operate the panels stalled, forcing the county to start from scratch with a different provider in July 2021.
“With the pandemic, there were supply chain issues within the solar industry and the cost of some construction materials went up,” said John Morrill, the county Office of Environment and Energy Coordination’s (OEEC) division manager for innovation and sustainability. “The county negotiated and accepted revised pricing from the vendors. But it’s still challenging, and the size of the system is still important to make the numbers work for both parties.”
Though the PPA initiative remains in place, the county is also pursuing other options to outfit its properties for solar power — specifically, incorporating it into new construction projects or enlisting energy services companies to do energy efficiency upgrades.
The solar project expected to be completed first will come from the general contractor hired to build the Sully Community Center, which opened in the Dulles area on Sept. 17.
The contractor is currently getting permits for the solar photovoltaic panels, putting the installation on track for completion by May, according to the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.
The general contractor route will also ensure that the new Seven Corners Fire Station has solar panels when it opens in spring 2024. The existing station on Sleepy Hollow Road was demolished last month.
Projects are also in various stages of development for the Woodlawn and Reston fire stations, the Spring Hill Recreation Center in McLean, and the Pender building, which hosts the county’s Housing and Community Development offices.
For those sites, the county will buy solar panels from energy services companies hired to install them along with other efficiency upgrades. The fire stations are in the final design phase with delivery target dates in August, while the Spring Hill project is in engineering design and slated for completion in winter 2024.
The county is targeting October for the Pender building upgrades, which are “a bit more complex,” Morrill says. In addition to a rooftop solar array, the project will retrofit the facility’s lighting and replace some other infrastructure, according to a permit under review.
“This combination of approaches gives the county maximum flexibility, as smaller systems…are not suitable to the PPA model,” Morrill said.
In the PPA model, the county contracts a solar provider to install, operate and maintain solar panels. The county isn’t responsible for any of those upfront costs, but it has to pay the provider and utility for the electricity that the panels produce.
According to Morrill, those agreements are most appealing to vendors for large projects, such as the one planned for the I-95 Landfill Complex in Lorton. That array will occupy 40 acres of land and is expected to generate 5 megawatts of electricity.
In comparison, the Sully Community Center project will generate 180 kilowatts, and Morrill estimates that panels approved for Annandale High School — Fairfax County Public Schools’ first PPA project — will generate about 600 kilowatts.
The landfill project is in the design stage, with construction likely starting in 2024 and finishing in 2025, per the OEEC.
Morrill says the county is planning solar panels at “several other facilities” through either the PPA initiative or energy efficiency upgrades, but it’s too early to estimate any timelines.
Even with these projects in the works, Fairfax County has some catching up to do in the race to transition to clean and renewable energy. While its greenhouse emissions from energy use have decreased since 2019, the county government still has some ways to go to meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2040.
Meanwhile, neighboring Arlington County announced last week that its operations now run entirely on renewable energy sources.
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Are you ready for summer? Live Fairfax has a bucket list of indoor activities, outdoor escapades and trips to explore this summer.
Camps are just the beginning of what’s in store at Art House 7 this summer. We’re thrilled to offer an array of exciting classes for both kids and adults!Rediscover your creativity with some of our AH7 favorites, such as drawing, hand-sewing, modern embroidery, and our popular 3-week Jump into Crochet classes. But that’s not all! We’ve added some fresh and exciting options to our summer class selection, guaranteed to spark your imagination.
To enhance your artistic journey, we have intensified some of our Ceramics: The Wheel classes to a full 3-hour duration. This extended time allows for more creativity and skill development in each class session. If you’re eager for a captivating twist, give Contemporary Still-Life Drawing & Painting a go. Or why not try an immersive outdoor painting adventure? We have a unique opportunity for you to bring your painting skills to life while learning and creating in the great outdoors with our Landscape Painting: Studio and Plein Air class!
We invite you to visit our website and explore our full Summer Session schedule, brimming with a diverse range of classes and camps. Classes and camps begin June 20th. Unleash your inner artist, broaden your horizons, and embark on a summer adventure like no other. Let’s make this a summer to remember at Art House 7!
Potomac Harmony Chorus has a new director! We’re ready
to kick off the season with new music, a new approach, and YOU!
Potomac Harmony is one of 500 choruses in Sweet
Adelines International. We’re a vibrant,
contemporary, inclusive, welcoming, and open community of women singers who
perform four-part harmony, barbershop style, committed to a high level of
achievement through teaching, mentoring, personal growth, and performance. Our vision is to entertain, educate, and
enrich lives through musical expression while promoting the barbershop art
Potomac Harmony recently had our first performance
with our new director, receiving rave reviews! We invite you to stop by any Wednesday
evening and be part of the fun and harmony!
Army Birthday Festival – Free and Fun
Make Saturday, June 10, 2023 a great day!
Come celebrate the Army Birthday Festival at the National Museum of the U.S. Army from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Rain or Shine!
• Experience outdoor and indoor fun activities, for all
Unveiling of West Ford historical highway marker
Gum Springs will be celebrating 190 years of its founding by freedman West Ford on Saturday, June 17, 2023. To kick-off the celebration, there will be an unveiling of a Virginia historical highway marker for West Ford on Fordson Road