LEAP's Program to 'Solarize Charlottesville' is Making Strides

Solar panels that were once unrealistic and costly are now becoming a reality. Many Charlottesville residents have taken the next step toward 'Solarize Charlottesville.'

This project started July 1st, and since then the Local Energy Alliance Program, also known as LEAP, has over 750 applications to get an assessment. Their goal was to get 300. Jon Proffitt, a solar panel manager talks about how LEAP was able to make this all possible.

"Local installers were able to reduce their prices as a result of things like bulk purchasing and off site marketing expenses, reduced travel times and other things that keep these installers local and help them to reduce their prices tremendously."

Now a reality for many, home owners just need to get through two issues...is their house suited? How are the costs...

"I've been looking at solar house sales for decades, it's something I’d love to have, but at 40 and 50 thousand dollars it's just not something I could do," mentions Andrew Beath, a homeowner in Hollymead that had solar panels installed early August of 2014.

They took advantage of solar panels after they heard that the price had dropped 60% since 2011.

"Other home owners are interested in smaller systems, they may offset just a smaller portion of their electrical consumption, say 20 or 30%, but it can get up to 100%," says Proffitt.

“Why don't we go like 300%, let’s make money on this deal; but unfortunately Dominion doesn't want you to do that. Dominion is going to charge you 11 cents per kilowatt hour," comments Beath

With such a small return there’s no need for extra panels, but feel free to pick up some extra Christmas lights...

"Neighbors will be blinded... hundred watts? no way we'll go 500!"

Dominion Virginia Power issued a statement to the Charlottesville Newsplex saying:
"Dominion Virginia Power supports the growth of solar energy in the Commonwealth, and is committed to providing our customers with renewable energy options. More than 1.000 of them are participating in programs that involve the installation of solar arrays on the rooftop of homes and businesses. These programs help gauge customer interest in solar directly influencing future program offerings."

It will take Andy about eight years to offset the cost of the panels and installation. After this he'll have no energy bill, besides the eight dollar paper fee to have dominion power. He also notes that the panels last about 25 years, adding a lot of value to their home.

More information can be found here:

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