VirginiaThe Commonwealth of Virginia may be for lovers—but its incentives for clean energy like photovoltaics (PVs) aren’t showing the love that its neighboring states are giving to renewables.

Virginia is home to many prominent government institutions, including the Marine Corp and FBI training grounds in Quantico, Langley Air Force Base, the CIA and the Department of Defense. As such, federal monies have likely gone into energy efficiency retrofits and PV add-ons to some of these buildings.

The state’s southern location and diverse geography are fostering its growing vintner industry, conditions that also make Virginia a great state for installing solar power and solar thermal. Two-thirds of the state gets an average of nearly 5 kilowatt hours (kWh) per square meter of sunlight per day, with the rest getting slightly less.

The state has a voluntary renewable energy goal of supplying 15 percent of the state’s electric generating capacity in 2007 with renewables by 2025. The voluntary nature of the goal and the lower ambitions in terms of percentage and timeline place Virginia behind many states that have passed renewable energy standards into law. A majority of such states have enacted standards requiring utilities to source at least 25 percent of their electric generation from renewables by 2025 and some, like Colorado, Hawaii, and California, have passed even higher standards. It remains to be seen whether or not Virginia’s voluntary approach to encourage renewable energy growth will yield positive results.

The state has some incentives to help residents become energy independent by converting to PV or other renewables. Among the incentives offered to residents are property tax incentives, property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, a performance-based incentive offered by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and net metering. In addition, local governments, like Arlington County offer additional renewable incentives. Arlington County, which neighbors Washington, D.C., offers a green-building incentive for developers of buildings that achieve LEED certification.

The state also incentivizes its residents to become more energy efficient through sales tax credits and rebates for energy-efficient appliances. Rebates are offered both through the state and utilities operating in the state.

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