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County is Streamlining Residential Solar Process

Prince William County News

Written By: Prince William County

During their meeting today, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors allocated $1.2 million from the county’s year-end savings to help cut the cost of residential solar installation that will save consumers money. The one-time Fee Reduction Program for Residential Solar Projects will waive all county fees associated with residential solar installation to incentivize residents and solar contractors to install solar equipment on houses in the county. The program will take effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

“I really believe this is going to be an additional incentive on top of the county tax reduction and the federal tax credit, specifically because it takes that cost away from the permitting side,” said Mandi Spina, acting director of the county’s Department of Development Services. 

In 2016, the county’s Department of Development Services received 14 applications for solar projects; applications for solar projects jumped to 1,087 in 2022. From calendar year 2021 to 2022, Development Services saw a 297-percent increase in the number of solar applications.

Spina said the Board’s allocation should meet the demand for solar project applications.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth with solar projects, and we know that growth is going to continue. The industry is booming at a rate that we’ve not seen in other industries. We are anticipating that the growth will continue at a steady pace or increase for the ’23 calendar year.”

Development Services will initiate a budget request to consider making the program permanent as part of the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget process.

Since November 2022, county staff has been working in conjunction with industry members on the Residential Solar Working Group.  Several process improvements have come out of that group, including the development of a standard list of components, which are pre-approved for use and saving industry from providing UL listings with each submission.

Also as an outcome of this group, Development Services and residential solar industry members are designing the Residential Solar County Typical Plan, which eliminates the need for engineers to sign and seal documents since the program includes all pertinent information about the solar installation project. The plan also includes an expedited review time of five business days and is scheduled for implementation in September, as well.

Development Services is also working to implement the SolarApp+ program for the county, where people can enter criteria for their solar project, at the program’s prompting, to get approval for the project to proceed.

“There are only three jurisdictions in the state who actually pilot SolarApp+. Ours is set to launch as early January 2024,” Spina said.

For more information about residential solar permitting, visit the county’s website at pwcva.gov/residentialsolar.

Encouraging residential solar power aligns with the county’s stated strategic plan goal of promoting energy sustainability.