A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices

Energy Report

Southwest Virginia Communities Designated as Solar-friendly

Representatives of the communities receiving SolSmart designation at the awards ceremony. Photo: Chelsea Barnes

On July 25, eight Southwest Virginia communities achieved designation under the national SolSmart program for encouraging the growth of local solar energy markets.

These municipalities were each awarded the designation for taking local action to reduce the time and expense required to install solar energy systems. For example, Wise County updated their zoning ordinance so that solar installations don’t require special permits or hearings.

Wise County achieved SolSmart Silver, while the following communities achieved SolSmart Bronze: Dickenson County, Lee County, City of Norton, Russell County, Scott County, Town of St. Paul, and Tazewell County. These are the first communities in Central Appalachia to have applied for and received the SolSmart designation.

“Southwest Virginia prides itself on the production of energy, and this is just a different way of continuing the energy production,” said Lou Wallace, a member of the Russell County Board of Supervisors. “Many manufacturing companies are looking for communities and counties who are forward-thinking, and having this designation just solidifies our commitment to our future.”

Already, at least seven large-scale solar projects totaling more than 4 megawatts are expected to begin construction by the end of 2019. The SolSmart designation will help facilitate additional residential, commercial, and utility-scale level solar projects in these communities.

SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.