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Virginia Solar Power Facts in 2024

Virginia Solar Program

With 205 sunny days, a year, Virginia or the mother of states is a great place to go solar. With a net metering system in place and residential property tax exemption, the Mother of States is bound to become the mother of solar as well. The sun is bright, but so are Virginia’s solar panel stats. If you decide to go solar, there is no better place than Virginia to get a head start. 

With their ambitious plan to extend their solar installations by another 6,454MW over the next five years, Virginia is a sure place for solar investment. The rebates that are present seem to be here to stay, as the state pledges to go 100% renewable by 2045. This is five years before many other states. 

The Mother of States has early enough recognized the value of renewable energy. The passing of the Clean Economy Act will create 29,000 solar jobs, all while bringing in immense economic opportunities for further growth of the green sector. 

Virginia Solar Energy Data

Virginia has experienced a 43% reduction in prices of solar power over the last five years. The reduction is made even more significant when a 26% Federal Tax Credit is taken into consideration. So, those who currently think of going solar will pay around 40% of what older solar installers paid. 

Solar is big in Virginia as it is. With a population of around 8.5 million people, it definitely has room for expansion of its solar capacity. VA currently ranks 11th in the USA by their solar installed and the 2.5GW are enough to power around 280,000 households. In comparison to Solar Panels in Texas and Solar Panels in Nevada, there is still a long way to go, but solar panels in Virginia are about to experience a boom, as the state plans to rank 4th in the next five years.

The $2.8 billion invested state-wide into various solar projects seem to be paying off quite well, since for now, around 2% of their energy needs are met through solar systems. Virginia solar power is expected to employ 29,000 more people in the upcoming year, so the current lift of 176 solar companies is expected to grow even further. 

For an average VA solar residential owner, the investment will pay off in around 10-13 years, which is ~10% ROI, much higher than even the wildest savings interest rates. This rate is also higher than investing in bonds and stocks and the savings can be seen immediately. The energy a 5kWh rooftop solar system produces will offset 70% + of an average electric bill in Virginia. 

Virginia Solar Statistics

DescriptionStatus
Virginia National Ranking11th
Solar Installed(MW)2,546.4 MW
Can Supply Power to: (No. of Homes)+280,900
% of State's Electricity from Solar1.99%
Solar Companies in the State176 (26 Manufacturers, 71 Installers and Developers, and 79 Others)
Solar Jobs Created4,312
Total Solar Investment in the State$2.8 Billion
Out of Pocket Cost for a 5kWh system$12,500-$16,900
Net 20-year savings$20,300-$27,500
Average Payback Period10-13 years
Electricity Bill Offset for a 5kWh system+70%
Number of Solar Installations+18,070

The numbers about Virginia solar energy speak for themselves: a lot has been done, the market is secure and the solar prices dropping year after year. With future investments, and VA ambitious green plans, the incentives for solar panel installation will stay and the pressure to increase solar installation will only grow stronger. 

Notable Solar Installations in Virginia

Over the years, the surface covered in solar panels in Virginia has only grown. In 2007, there was only 0.4MW of solar capacity in Virginia. Over time, that number has grown to 2,310.5MW that we see today. Not all of this capacity is rooftop solar capacity. Quite on contrary, Virginia can boast some large-scale solar projects. 

The largest of these is Amazon’s Eastern Shore Solar LLC. This solar panel installation boasts 80MW of electricity generation, which is enough to power over 8,000 Virginia homes. The system uses a single-axis sun-tracking system and is capable of maintaining peak production for the majority of the day. The system was finished in 2016. 

Recently, large-scale solar system installations in Virginia got negative attention. 3,500 acres in Spotsylvania Country were supposed to be covered in a solar panel system. Many residents of the area, however, were worried that the solar panel system size would be an eyesore, and neglecting the upfront cost of such a solar system and the high producing power of 500 MW, the project was haulted.

Some pro-solar customers say that although solar panels work to bring energy costs down and to save money to their customers, Virginia homeowners still have not understood the value that such systems can bring to the state. Furthermore, it appears that the earlier issue with utility company monopoly in the solar market may be clearing. This should open opportunities for larger system size and the reduced cost per watt to be taken into consideration by more Virginia homeowners.

Still, Virginia’s solar carve and the Bill voted back in 2020 which should provide great installation incentives to solar companies ensure that more large-scale projects will be undertaken in the state. The Virginia Clean Economy act already has positive consequences for green energy in the state. in 2020, Dominion Energy stopped its plans for expansion of gas infrastructure in the state as the legislation does not ensure that upfront cost would payoff.

Is it Worth it to Buy Solar Panels in Virginia?

Yes, it is absolutely worth it to buy solar panels in Virginia. Solar panel systems price has fallen by almost 80% over the last ten years. In the last five years, the price of solar in Virginia has fallen by 43%. The federal subsidies for solar system installation of 26% are here until the end of 2022 when they will drop down to 22%. 

Going solar in Virginia is worth it because it offers a number of benefits. Among those are the significant savings on your electric bill, the fast return on investment and the peace of mind, knowing that you are one step closer to energy independence. Reducing your carbon footprint is another significant aspect to consider. 

Saving on your electricity bill should come as a no-brainer. An average VA household uses around 17,000 kWh of electricity per year. This easily adds up to $1,600 in annual electricity bills. Going solar can easily save you 70% + of your electricity expenditure. With an average VA kWh being around $9.52, this translates to $1,120 saved on electric bills every year. 

Secondly, the fast return on investment is another reason you may want to consider residential solar for your VA household. The solar payback period in VA is 10-13 years. This is around 8-10% annual return on investment and this rate beats any stock investment or a savings account return. 

Furthermore, the peace of mind of knowing that you are one step closer to energy independence and that you can rely less on your utility company and fossil fuels is worth the investment on its own. Some VA homeowners decide to go full solar and instal solar batteries to store the solar energy for when they need it the most – nights and cloudy days. 

Finally, reducing your carbon footprint is just an amazing thing to do. With the climate changes threatening the weather and agricultural practices, solar is a great way to do your part in fighting for mother nature. The mother of states sure shows potential to help fight the 21-century nemesis. 

Average Cost of Solar Energy Systems

The average Cost of a Solar Energy System in Virginia has been showing a steady decline. Solar panels in VA have dropped in price by almost 80% compared to ten years ago. This is one of the reasons why so many VA residents decide to instal rooftop solar and secure their energy future. 

Currently, the average solar cost per Watt is around $2.46 to $3.34. This is $12,300-16-600 per 5kWh solar system. This number is likely to go down even further with Federal Solar Tax Credit and net metering system in place in VA. . The slope of the roof, the orientation of the house, your energy needs and any shading that may be present on your property can all contribute to your solar PV system being more or less expensive than the state average. 

You could also decide to give a boost to your solar installation by avoiding a grid-tied system and installing battery storage. This installation process may take longer but will take you off the utility grid. it will also reduce how much electricity your rooftop solar should produce as all excess generation goes straight to your storage. You avoid net metering programs and their deductions and have no utility bill to pay at the end of the month.

Solar Panel Energy Production in Virginia

Solar panel energy production in Virginia has been significantly increasing as the prices of solar panels dropped and the need for renewables increased. The total solar capacity of VA has seen a steady increase in the past 15 years, from a modest 0.4MW of solar power installed back in 2007 to today. 

Virginia has introduced the feed-in-tariff, whereby it pays around 4-6 cents over retail price to renewable energy producers who have between 50kW and 1000kW. The solar subsidy contracts are generally signed for longer time periods, such as ten years. This is VA’s way of securing future solar investments. 

On the other side of the spectrum are the smaller, residential solar systems. By making sure that just about anyone can install solar and by introducing net metering, Virginia incentivizes the production of clean energy and further investments in private residential solar systems. Although these systems do not generate much energy on a larger scale, they are the key to securing an energy independent future and avoiding wider network instability. 

The future of solar in Virginia looks bright as well. Dominion Energy Inc. has proposed installing solar panels in several projects in this state in the future. The proposal aims at securing an additional 500MW of solar power to this state. This much free electricity could easily power around 125,000 VA households. 

Virginia Solar Incentives, Rebates, and Tax Credits

The sudden jump in Virginia solar production is a result of state incentives and Federal Solar Incentives. The two combined make up a pretty good deal for new solar owners. The Federal Solar Incentive is the Federal Solar Tax Credit that is awarded at 26% of solar investment value to anyone who installs a solar system till the end of 2022. 

After this period, the Federal Tax Credit falls down to 22% and from 2025 onwards, it will drop down to 10%. Many say that the Federal Solar Incentive will stay high even past 2025, as the country needs more solar and more renewables in general in order to meet its energy neutrality goals. 

If your income is eligible for Federal Taxation, you may get the solar tax credits. The way it works is that it takes away the 26% of your solar system value from the total federal taxes you owe. In case that you pay your taxes by withholding them from your paycheck, you can ask for this money back as a tax return. 

In case you owe less in federal taxes than the 26% of the value of your solar panel installation, you can take over the remaining solar tax credits to the next year. This way, the federal government stimulates you to invest more into your and your grid’s future.  Federal incentives are available for solar loans and cash purchases only.

Another incentive comes from the state of Virginia. Namely, it is the property value tax exemption. As you install your solar PV system, your property’s value will increase. This should in turn mean more heavy taxation on your property. To prevent this from happening, the state of VA does not take into consideration the value added to your property when determining your property taxes. 

Yet another incentive coming from the Mother of States is net metering. This handy upgrade to the way that your electricity consumption is calculated also takes into consideration the energy you deliver to the system. When your power production is higher than your power consumption, the system feeds excess solar electricity to the grid. When you produce less or no energy, such as during the night, you draw back your energy from the system. You only pay the difference between the energy used and delivered to the electric grid. 

DescriptionEquivalent Cost
The Cost of a 10kWh solar PV system in Virginia $29,000
The Federal Solar Tax Credit @26%$7,540
Net Metering savings @70% reduction and the kWh price @$0.925$1,120
Total cost for a 10kWh solar system at the end of year 1$20,340
Years before a 10kWh system pays off if all Virginia solar incentives are taken 10-13 years

Top Solar Companies in Virginia

There are many solar companies operating in Virginia. Currently, there are around 176 solar companies. 26 of them are manufacturers. Additional 71 are Solar Panel Installers and Developers and some 79 are Others – companies that do the works related to the solar industry. 

Choosing the best solar installer in VA can be a difficult task. The best VA solar installer should be able to install different types of panels and do so on different roof surfaces. They should also have ample experience in solar panel installation and have great reviews. These are the top 10 solar installers in Virginia: 

  1. Nova Solar, in Falls Church, 
  2. Southern Exposure Solar, works in Ashland, 
  3. Ipsun Solar, operates multi-state, 
  4. Sustainable Energy Systems LLC, operates multi-state as well, 
  5. Sky NRG Solar Inc, in Reston, 
  6. Virtue Solar, LLC, operates in Madison, 
  7. BlueStar Solar Energy LLC, works in Lexington, 
  8. Baseline Solar Solutions, works in Blacksburg, 
  9. Solar SME Inc, works in McLean, and 
  10. Solar Energy World, operates multi-state. 

FAQs

At what temperature are solar panels most efficient?

Solar panels generally work the best in the temperature range between 59°F and 95°F. Any temperature below or above this threshold may reduce their energy efficiency. This does not mean that the drop in efficiency will be very significant since many solar panels can get as hot as a 150°F during summer peak hours.

Are free solar panels really free?

Many solar utility companies like to advertise their solar panels as free. Free should mean ‘practically free’ or ‘not free’. There are companies that lease solar power to you or they install solar panels on your rooftop after you sign a PPA agreement. Under the PPA or Power Purchase Agreement, you still pay the utility companies for the electricity that the solar panels on your rooftop produce. The only way to be truly energy independent is to install your own solar panels.

What is the best weather for solar panels?

Solar panels work the best and achieve the highest efficiency on a bright day, with direct sunlight exposure. This is when they create the most solar power. In any other conditions, their efficiency will decrease, although your solar power PV or solar system will still be able to produce clean energy. Partial shade and indirect sunlight will reduce their efficiency as well. 

Can you fix a solar panel?

A cracked or broken solar PV panel cannot be repaired. A solar panel that has been damaged can still produce some electricity, but putting back the pieces that have broken off is a futile task. Solar panels should be completely sealed for best results and peak energy production. 

Conclusion

Virginia solar power seems to be a story that is just only beginning. With large-scale solar projects looming in the near future and with positive experiences piling up, solar power is the way to go in the Mother of States. Significant savings, a short solar payback period and a large number of low-interest solar loans are the best additional incentives for adding solar panels as of today. 

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