Community solar gardens may be in Alexandria, VA’s future. A recent measure taken by the Alexandria City Council provided initial approval of a planning commission ordinance. During a Nov. 9 meeting, the council reviewed an ordinance that allowed for the construction and development of solar farms within city limits. According to the ordinance, the developments can either be commercial in nature or be community solar gardens.
The approval allows for small community solar gardens that sit on a parcel of 5 acres or less. They would be allowed as an accessory use in properties zoned as agricultural or open space land as well as regional and general business or light industrial zoning. State regulations would limit the generation of energy to only 1 megawatt per year. Any community solar farm that’s built on more than 5 acres of land would be considered conditional use.
According to Mike Weber, city planner, Interstate 94 has seen an assortment of solar installations being built nearby. Weber states that the ordinance was created after the planning board reviewed other communities and organizations to determine the effectiveness and impact of solar development. The ordinance was specifically designed to fit within Douglas County’s zoning and state regulations.
Through the community solar installations, residents of Alexandria would be able to subscribe to a unit of generated energy. This would reduce their monthly energy costs, either through an offset provided by the electric company or a credit applied directly to their bill.
Community solar is typically developed to help underserved communities benefit from clean, renewable energy without shelling out money for expensive solar panels. To further help the local economy, even small businesses can subscribe to the solar installation and enjoy the benefits of community solar.
Alexandria City Council has yet to announce any potential projects to bring community solar or industrial solar within the city’s limits.