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Lawmakers convene for Powhatan Elementary School solar energy unveiling

virginia advanced energy economyVirginia Advanced Energy Economy hosted lawmakers Tuesday for the unveiling of Powhatan Elementary School’s recently completed solar energy rooftop array.

The project illustrates the impact of Virginia’s Clean Economy Act and growing advanced energy employment across the Commonwealth, expected to increase by 8 percent according to AEE’s latest jobs fact sheet. The solar arrays at Powhatan County Public Schools were developed through a partnership between BrightSuite and Sun Tribe.

“Today is an exciting moment for Powhatan County Public Schools and Virginia’s Seventh District, and I am thrilled to help celebrate Powhatan Elementary School’s installation of this solar array. In the U.S. House, I am focused on making sure the conversation surrounding clean energy and infrastructure includes new opportunities for investments in these critical technologies — and I look forward to building on our region’s recent successes and finding new ways for Central Virginia to become a leader in the clean energy space,” Second District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger said. “As our nation looks to tackle the climate crisis and make smart investments to combat the challenges we face, solar energy is a key part of a climate-smart future. The continued growth of this important sector in Central Virginia and across the Commonwealth is creating high-paying, secure jobs for many of our neighbors — and I’m proud to see our communities embrace new ways to create affordable, sustainable energy sources.”

“I am delighted that this recently completed project highlights the growing success of the Virginia Clean Economy Act within just one year of its implementation. The VCEA, which passed with bipartisan votes in both Chambers during the 2020 legislative session, has put the Commonwealth’s electric utilities on a path to fully decarbonize by 2045,” State Sen. Ghazala Hashmi said. “The VCEA also made Virginia the first state in the South to set a 100 percent clean energy standard. It’s exciting to provide our schools, businesses, and other organizations with this opportunity to save on utility costs, implement green energy, and help us to collectively reduce carbon emissions.”

“This project at Powhatan Elementary demonstrates the possibilities of solar energy generation at our public-schools and represents a perfect incremental addition of renewable resources to our electricity needs,” Del. R. Lee Ware said. “I commend Sun Tribe for completion of its initial project here and applaud Powhatan County Schools for participating in a project that will benefit our entire community.”

“Powhatan County Public Schools is proud of our partnership with Sun Tribe. This solar power project has provided real cost savings and invaluable hands-on learning opportunities to our teachers and students,” said Powhatan County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Jones. “More importantly it sends a clear message that we value renewable energy in our community.”

“Projects like the ones we’ve built in Powhatan County show why a growing number of school divisions throughout Virginia are embracing solar: because it provides a chance to save money while opening educational opportunities for more young people,” said Rich Allevi, vice president of development at Sun Tribe. “Thanks to Power Purchase Agreements, educational, local government, and non-profit leaders will continue to have the ability to access affordable clean energy which will benefit their organizations and their communities.”

“The collaboration between BrightSuite and Sun Tribe reduces emissions and costs for schools. Students benefit greatly from both,” said Todd Headlee, director of customer energy solutions, Dominion Energy. BrightSuite, a subsidiary of Dominion Energy, has partnered with Sun Tribe to bring solar energy to 27 schools across Virginia. “Renewable energy projects like these also contribute to advancing Virginia’s clean energy economy and provide clean energy jobs, a goal we all share as we work collectively to build a sustainable energy future.”

“More than 93,000 Virginians work in advanced energy across the Commonwealth – more than all of the folks employed in business and management consulting. We expect this figure to grow by 8 percent this year alone as we recover from the pandemic and continue to implement the Virginia Clean Economy Act,” said Harry Godfrey, executive director of Virginia Advanced Energy Economy. “Thanks to the VCEA, we will see more projects like this one that create good-paying careers and annual savings for customers and taxpayers.”

As part of the unveiling, visitors also had the opportunity to see the array on Powhatan Elementary School thanks to a tour of the rooftop of Powhatan Middle School, which is directly next door and affords a view of both solar systems.

The 511 kilowatt (kW) Powhatan Middle School array and Powhatan Elementary School 450 kilowatt (kW) array both emphasize the larger impact of good-paying solar jobs for the Commonwealth. Completed in the Spring of 2020, the projects helped sustain local solar jobs amidst the COVID-19 crisis.


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