SolSmart awards gold to Wise County, Va.

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SolSmart awarded the county the Gold designation for its work to make solar power faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses. The Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy) partners with the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia to serve as a free technical advisor with the program.

“What a big step for Wise County as it prepares for cleaner energy development, a boost to the local economy and contributes to established goals in the Commonwealth,” said the director of Virginia Energy , John Warren. “We hope that more localities will follow suit not only by preparing for the development of renewable energies, but by seeing these innovative opportunities for reallocation on formerly exploited lands, as Wise County and its partners have done for their development. solar energy at the Mineral Gap Data Center. ”

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Mineral Gap Data Center in the industrial park to commemorate the county’s new SolSmart Gold designation. The Wise County Industrial Development Authority received a $ 500,000 Abandoned Mining Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) grant from Virginia Energy for site preparation. This is the first solar project under construction in the county and it has contributed to the Gold designation.

“Achieving the SolSmart Gold designation is a great example of how Wise County is committed to becoming a regional leader in alternative energy. We have a great opportunity to embrace our history of power generation while staying at the forefront of solar, wind and water power, ”said Brian Falin, Industrial Development Supervisor for Wise County. “This award is a great opportunity for us to show our citizens, businesses and industries that our goal is to provide the tools and support they need to invest in solar energy.

Wise County first received the SolSmart Silver designation in 2019 and has now switched to SolSmart Gold after other accomplishments. Wise County achieved the SolSmart Gold designation by establishing a permit turnaround time of three days or less for small rooftop solar projects, scheduling inspections, and creating a solar resources web page for the county.

“We are delighted to congratulate Wise County on achieving the highest level of SolSmart designation,” said Theresa Perry, Program Director for SolSmart at the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). “This achievement shows that Wise County is on a path to robust solar growth, as evidenced by the Mineral Gap Solar Project. We are encouraging other communities to join SolSmart and help residents and businesses access clean, affordable energy from the sun.

“Over the years, Wise County has been a tremendous partner for us at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and now, with our collective goal of improving communities through energy transition initiatives, we couldn’t be more satisfied with this important designation, “said Director Director of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at AVU. “I have no doubts that this will serve as a model for other communities in the Commonwealth to follow and I am delighted to see how this work will serve as a springboard for other innovative forms of economic and energy development in the future. “

SolSmart is led by IREC and the International City / County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The nominees help solar companies to significantly reduce the cost of installations and the costs passed on to consumers. It is also extending the solar option to more homes and local businesses. The end result is clean energy and local job creation.

Communities in Virginia interested in the Solsmart designation can find more information through Virginia Energy website. All municipalities, counties and regional organizations are eligible for the SolSmart program.

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