Press Release

Southwest Va. solar group seeks local partners for group purchase program


Chelsea Barnes
New Economy Program Manager, (276) 207-9636

The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia has announced an opportunity for businesses, government and nonprofit entities to go solar and save money on electricity bills through its second Commercial-Scale Solar Group Purchase.

In 2018, the workgroup successfully facilitated its first Commercial-Scale Solar Group Purchase for more than 1.5 megawatts of solar power at seven buildings across the region, including Ridgeview and Central High Schools in Dickenson and Wise counties. The workgroup is now facilitating another group purchase process, which is open to any large-scale building that is publicly or privately controlled in far Southwest Virginia.

“I appreciate very much being a part of the Solar Workgroup’s commercial-scale group purchase program,” said Monty Salyer, who represented the Wetlands Estonoa building in the 2018 cycle. “The program guided us through the complex solar procurement process. Speaking as an elected official, we are always looking for cost-effective energy sources. I highly recommend to other community leaders to consider solar as a means of lowering utility bills.”

“Our main goal is to work with building owners to find solar solutions that are cost-effective,” said Adam Wells, Regional Director of Community and Economic Development with Appalachian Voices. “In most cases, building owners will see bids that involve no upfront costs and that are revenue neutral or positive from day one.”

Through the group purchase program, the workgroup provides no-cost technical assistance throughout the procurement process, helping building owners navigate the often complex process of a commercial-scale solar installation. Pooling demand from across the region lowers the overall price, while participation through a peer setting provides valuable resources for building owners and organizational leaders as they go through the process together. Installing solar allows buildings to generate their own electricity, saving money on monthly utility bills.

The workgroup is comprised of nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, state agencies, planning district commissions and other interested citizens and businesses seeking to develop a renewable energy industry cluster in the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia. The workgroup was co-convened in 2016 by the University of Virginia-Wise Office of Economic Development & Engagement, People Inc., and Appalachian Voices, with facilitation assistance from Dialogue + Design Associates.

The workgroup is facilitating this group purchase as part of its mission to utilize the development of solar energy as an economic catalyst in the seven-county region of far Southwest Virginia. It will gather a group of interested building owners and issue a Request for Proposals to solar installers in the region that agree to provide training opportunities for local residents through the installation process.

Contact Chelsea Barnes to learn more. The deadline to join the group purchase process is March 15.


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