(MAY 2019) UPDATE: PLEASE NOTE THAT THE GRANT PROGRAM IS CLOSED TO NEW APPLICANTS, BUT WE ARE LEAVING THIS INFORMATION POSTED AS A COMMUNITY RESOURCE.
The RVA Solar Fund was created to enable public-school systems, local governments, and non-profit organizations to choose solar energy while avoiding the traditional barriers of large upfront costs and complex procurement processes. Grantees may use the grant funds to cover new sustainability initiatives and administrative costs, while also benefiting from zero capital costs and lower, more predictable annual electricity costs from solar energy. The whole region benefits from $12 million in private investment deployed to provide clean energy to public facilities or non-profit entities.
Public-school systems, local governments, and 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in the Community Foundation's service area (the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Petersburg, and Richmond as well as the counties of Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, and Powhatan) are invited to apply to the RVA Solar Fund. Additionally, k-12 public school districts and local governments from the counties of Amelia, Charles City, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King William, New Kent, Prince George, Richmond, and Westmoreland also are eligible.
Buy Solar Power, Not Solar Panels
Solar arrays installed on public or non-profit buildings create an opportunity for community education and outreach regarding the choice to go solar. However, going solar does not require that the host site directly purchase the solar panels. Rather, a power purchase agreement (PPA) facilitates the installation of the panels by a solar developer, then the public school, local government, or non-profit organization buys the generated power just as they currently buy electricity from their utility - but at a reduced total cost. This “Buy Solar Power, Not Solar Panels” approach avoids any need for debt, capital costs, new appropriations requests, or new fundraising.
Get Grant Funding to Cover Associated Expenses
While solar PPAs eliminate the capital and maintenance costs and provide annual utility cost savings, there’s still the time and administrative cost of coordinating the solar installations and educating property managers and other stakeholders about solar energy. Applicants selected for awards will receive amounts ranging from $4,000 to $100,000 to cover such expenses as roof and electrical system upgrades, energy audits, teacher training and curriculum development, or administrative costs of going solar through a power purchase agreement (PPA).
Stable, Predictable, and Lower Utility Costs
PPAs offer electricity at less than the cost of fossil fuel energy at rates which are stable and predictable. While fossil fuels continue to experience price increases and volatility, PPAs supply reliable power below what the customer currently pays for electricity, locked-in at a consistent rate over a 20-year contract. Thus, savings increase over time, and organizations’ budgeting decisions benefit from greater certainty and transparency.
Accelerated and Simplified Procurement For Public Agencies
For local governments and school districts, this grant initiative greatly reduces the time, cost, and complexity of contracting for a solar PPA. Any Virginia public entity may utilize the Cooperative Purchasing Agreement made possible by the cooperative purchasing option established by Albemarle County’s July 2014 RFP for a solar PPA. That RFP already has been used successfully by Albemarle County Public Schools (2015), Lexington Public Schools (2015), Richmond Public Schools (2018), and Augusta County Public Schools (2018). Click here to view executed legal opinions affirming the use of cooperative purchasing.
Safe, Affordable, Hassle-Free Building Maintenance
Schools, public institutions, or non-profit organizations considering solar energy commonly ask what impact solar panels have on long-term building maintenance, roof warranties, and infrastructure upkeep costs. Fortunately, the answer contains all good news: solar not only protects existing facilities infrastructure, it also lowers long-term costs and reduces building maintenance.