Community solar project in Virginia launches 25% renewable energy option for a small premium


Harrisonburg Electric Commission (HEC) will vote in March on a community solar plan, which–if approved–will go live in July, making HEC the first municipal utility in the state of Virginia offering its customers the community solar option.

The 1.4MW Acorn Solar installation is being developed by Dominion Energy on a 10-acre plot of land that Harrisonburg purchased for $550,000. According to HEC, the installation is projected to generate about 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity, or enough to power about 250 homes. The solar plant is being constructed by Charlottesville-based Sun Tribe Solar. HEC is contracted to purchase power through from Dominion until 2031.

If approved, HEC plans to launch its community solar program, dubbed “HEC’s Friendly City Solar Program,” in the summer of 2022. Residential customers will be able to purchase renewable energy in 50kWh blocks, up to 25% of their average monthly usage. The cost of each 50 kWh block will be $5.75, which is about $1.50 more than the current cost 50kWh of electricity through HEC, and pricing will be fixed for the customer for 25 years. Customers who subscribe at the maximum level will pay on average an additional $90/year to be 25% renewable (based on an average usage of 1,000 kWh/month).



Back in 2017 Virginia was lagging behind other states in solar energy adoption, then Virginia Senate Bill SB 1393 was signed into law and the tide turned. It was that bill, for example, that motivated Dominion Energy to launch its Community Solar Pilot Program in May of 2017. Today Virginia generates 3.25% of its electricity from solar and it’s ranked ninth in the nation for installed solar, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

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