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Virginia Churches See the Light

PHOTO: Faith communities across the state are learning about the benefits of "going solar." Photo credit: VA Interfaith Power and Light
PHOTO: Faith communities across the state are learning about the benefits of "going solar." Photo credit: VA Interfaith Power and Light
September 16, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - Going solar is getting simpler for churches in Virginia. A state law took effect this summer that makes it easier for faith communities, schools and nonprofits to install, use and even sell solar energy.

Marco Grimaldo is the CEO and president of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, one of several "green" groups encouraging churches across the state to take advantage of the new law.

"So, one, their own energy costs go down. And, two, if there's a surplus, they're able to sell that back for their own benefit. I imagine that a church would be able to take that revenue and put it back into their main work, their main mission," Grimaldo said.

The law created a pilot program that allows churches to install solar panels without any up-front or maintenance costs. They pay only for the electricity the system provides.

Grimaldo said he hopes faith communities across the state will explore solar energy as a way of protecting the earth's precious resources and responding to climate change.

"They should work through an energy audit, know about their building structure and what they have to work with, and that will help them determine whether or not this is a good plan for them," he said.

Until recently, Virginia has offered few incentives for solar energy in the state. The new law creates a pilot program that allows nonprofits to enter into third-party power-purchase agreements, known as PPAs, that are financed by private companies.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - VA