Press Release

Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia seeks bids for residential Solarize program


Chelsea Barnes, New Economy Program Manager
chelsea [at], 276-679-1691

Norton, VA — The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia today released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for partnership in the Southwest Virginia 2020 Residential Solarize Program. This program will provide solar installation services for homeowners, small businesses, and farms in the seven-county coalfield region of Southwest Virginia. The workgroup is facilitating this program as part of its mission to utilize the development of solar energy as an economic catalyst in the region (Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties, and the City of Norton).

“The solar industry is now one of the fastest growing in the nation,” said Becki O’Quinn, Program Director of Community and Economic Development for the University of Virginia at UVa-Wise. “The Solarize program will help boost the development of a solar industry in Southwest Virginia will drive economic activity, specifically around new high-tech industries.”

The program is being launched after eight Southwest Virginia communities achieved designation under the national SolSmart program for encouraging the growth of local solar energy markets. Among these communities, Wise County achieved SolSmart Silver designation, while the others achieved SolSmart Bronze designation: Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott and Tazewell counties, the City of Norton and Town of St. Paul. These are the first communities in the Central Appalachian region to have applied for and received the SolSmart designation.

In today’s RFP, the workgroup is seeking proposals for a solar developer to conduct assessments for at least 100 homeowners who have already signed up for the program, as well as homeowners who continue to sign up through the program period.

“The goal of the Solarize program is to work with homeowners and developers to find solar solutions that are cost-effective for residents,” said Austin Counts, AmeriCorps Solar Vista with Appalachian Voices. “We also seek a partner that can create employment opportunities for Southwest Virginians to ensure maximum local benefit.”

The RFP applications are due March 27th. The workgroup will conduct a pre-bid meeting on March 17th at 2pm (Register for the pre-bid meeting.) Contact Chelsea Barnes with the Solar Workgroup at chelsea [at] or Austin Counts at austin [at] Both can be reached at 276-26-1691. Additional information is available at Southwest Virginia Solar Workgroup.

The Solar 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 UVA-Wise Office of Economic Development & Engagement, People Inc., and Appalachian Voices, with facilitation assistance from Dialogue + Design Associates.



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