A press release from the Harrisonburg Electric Commission (HEC) laid out a plan for a new Virginia community solar installation. The 1.4-megawatt proposed array is being eyed for a 9.9-acre parcel near the corner of Acorn Drive and North Liberty Street. The HEC has appealed to Harrisonburg City Council to approve the sale of the nearly 10-acres of land to allow construction of the solar farm.
The press release explains that the community solar installation would generate around 3 million kilowatts-per-hour of power each year. On average, that’s enough to keep 250 homes powered. If the solar development reaches its peak performance, it could reduce carbon emissions by around 70,000 metric tons over its lifespan.
While the HEC awaits City Council approval, it is still moving forward with other aspects of the project. It is currently reviewing the last details of the arrangement of the solar panels. According to the HEC’s general manager, Brain O’Dell, the commission has been eyeing this project for several years. O’Dell confirms that the energy produced by the site would be filtered out to its customers.
Traditionally, management companies overseeing community solar installations offer subscriptions to buy into a specific amount of energy, or a unit. Each unit then results in a monthly discount on electricity bills for the life of the subscription. Subscriptions are typically free to cancel at any time to give the customer the freedom to drop out.
Currently, the REC is offering Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which allow funds to be redirected to clean power plants. RECs are earned with each megawatt-hour generated from solar installations in the Virginia commonwealth. According to the HEC website, for every $6.25 contributed to the REC program, the commission will add a 1,000-kilowatt block of energy to the power grid.
This program differs slightly from community solar, but still provides an option to help protect the environment from hazardous emissions.