Getting Started with Solar
Welcome to the NRVRC’s solar resource page. The Regional Commission is seeking ways to enhance the amount of solar energy installed in the region. For more information about the basics of solar energy, your solar options, and questions to ask solar professionals, read the Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power and visit the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.
Resources for Local Governments
It is recommended that the appropriate local government staff review the following webinars to ensure they are aware of current best practices for solar planning, zoning, permitting, and inspection.
- - Best Practices in Solar Planning and Zoning SolSmart Webinar – recording and slides (Youtube)
- - Best Practices for Solar PV Permitting and Inspection SolSmart Workshop
- - Session 1: Simplified Solar Permitting – Structural
- - Session 2: Simplified Solar Permitting – Electrical
- - Session 3: Best Practices for Field Inspections
- - Slide Deck: SolSmart Simplified Solar Permitting Presentation
- - Slide Deck: SolSmart Best Practices for Field Inspections Presentation
- - Template: Field Inspection Checklist for Rooftop Photovoltaic (PV) Systems
The Model Inspection checklist for Residential Rooftop PV from the International Renewable Energy Council (IREC) serves as a best practice guide to inform and improve the inspection process for local governments. It is recommended the member local governments review the checklist to educate inspectors on the latest code requirements and/or adopt the checklist in order to improve field inspection consistency.
Additionally, SolSmart has a Toolkit for Local Governments that covers various topics, including stakeholder engagement; planning, zoning, and development; and codes, permitting, and inspection.
Solar energy uses a renewable energy source – the sun – and provides many benefits for individuals and the community. It improves environmental quality by reducing carbon emissions and air pollution, supports local solar companies in Virginia, saves money on energy costs as the price continues to drop from technological developments, and improves electric grid resilience during peak demand and other stresses to the system.
You can estimate your property’s solar potential using Google’s Project Sunroof and the performance of potential PV projects using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator.
Solar Rights and Procedure
Read the Virginia Solar Easements Act to understand the process and some guidelines for obtaining an easement.
Read the Covenants regarding solar power to understand the limits on community associations to prohibit the installation of solar power.
Finding a Contractor and Going Solar
Find a solar contractor (or two) to assess a property for solar energy and provide a bid. Certified practitioners can be found through NABCEP.
- - Choosing a Solar Installer – an informative short video from the GW Solar Institute explaining the questions to ask and research to conduct prior to going solar.
- - Consumer Solar Checklist – a checklist for residential consumers considering solar energy from IREC, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
- - Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights – ensuring a positive consumer experience by addressing important issues from IREC, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
- - Solar Customer Resource Portal
Financing, Incentives, and Tax Exemptions
Typically solar installations are paid for through loans or cash, with Federal and State incentives available.
- - A Homeowner’s Guide to Solar Financing – learn about different financing options from CESA, the Clean Energy States Alliance.
- - Rooftop Solar Financing 101 – an informative short video from the GW Solar Institute explaining different solar financing options.
More Useful Solar Information
Learn more about solar from the Maryland-DC-Delaware-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA).
- - Find a Solar Professional from MDV-SEIA’s directory.
- - State of Virginia Division of Energy – Energy Incentives.
- Regional Energy Resources:
- - Virginia Energy Plan Update
- - NRV Livability Initiative’s Energy Report