Solarize NOVA, a program that offers free on-site energy assessments and bulk purchasing discounts for the conversion to solar power, is available to homeowners and businesses in Dumfries through Nov. 10.
As part of the program, sponsored by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and the Local Energy Alliance Program, Dumfries homeowners can use a new online mapping tool to estimate how much energy they could save by converting to solar power. The program bases savings predictions on factors such as the size of the roof and the amount of sunlight the building receives, said Robert W. Lazaro, director of regional energy planning for NVRC.
Although the Solarize NOVA program has been available in several municipalities in Loudoun and Fairfax counties — and is now being offered in Alexandria — only Dumfries has the mapping tool, Lazaro said.
“Our goal is to create one for the entire region,” Lazaro said. “Much of the data for Northern Virginia is not available yet.”
The mapping tool is “a way of starting the conversation,” Lazaro said. Anyone who is considering converting to solar power still needs to have a site assessment, which Solarize NOVA provides at no charge, he said. He added that free home energy checkups are also available.
The program provides discounts on solar energy conversion through contracts with Northern Virginia installers, LEAP officials said. Loans, rebates and tax credits are also available to help make the conversion more affordable.
Lazaro said one tax incentive might not be available for long. A 30 percent federal tax credit for solar conversion is set to expire at the end of next year.
“So this fall is the perfect time to do this,” Lazaro said. “Next year is going to be really crazy.”
The Solarize NOVA program was piloted in Leesburg and Loudoun last fall, and was extended to Falls Church, Herndon and Vienna in the spring. The program “is making a real difference in getting people interested in and installing solar for their home,” Lazaro said.
More than 1,300 people have expressed interest in solar energy by registering for the program, 351 followed through with home energy checkups, and 31 solar projects have been installed or are in the process of being installed, Lazaro said.
Dumfries Mayor Gerald “Jerry” Foreman said in a statement that he is proud that Dumfries is participating in the program.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our residents and business owners to support our local economy, provide cost savings for taxpayers and protect our environment by reducing emissions through solar energy,” he said.
Barnes is a freelance writer.