Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open to visitors by appointment only. Please call or email from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

703-324-7136
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 533
Fairfax, VA 22035

Kambiz Agazi,
Director

Learn About Renewable Energy

Canopy solar panels over a parking lotRenewable energy is generated from sustainable natural resources that are not depleted when used. Typically renewable energy is associated with the generation of electricity, but it can also refer to fuel used for transportation or heating. Renewable energy projects vary in size from utility-scale power plants to commercial and residential applications. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows historical and projected growth for the U.S. renewable energy industry.

Many people are familiar with solar and wind energy, but other renewable energy sources include geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass, ocean, and waste. More information on all types of renewable energy can be found on the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Virginia Energy Sense webpages.

Most electric utilities offer the opportunity to buy “green” power for a small bill surcharge. Utilities supply “green” power by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs, on behalf of their customers. RECs represent the environmental attributes of power produced from renewable energy sources. They give customers the opportunity to support renewable energy without having to install a renewable energy project onsite. For more information, visit the Dominion Green Power or NOVEC Renewable Energy Certificates webpages. RECs can also be sold and purchased independent from a local utility.

Please note: This page is under construction. Information will be added as it becomes available. Please check back for updates.

SOLARIZE

To help residents and businesses reduce the cost and complexity of investing in solar energy, Fairfax County works with the Local Energy Alliance Program to host an annual Solarize campaign. Since 2014, more than 540 solar systems have been installed in Northern Virginia through the Solarize program.

USING SOLAR IN FAIRFAX COUNTY

Fairfax County encourages residents and businesses to invest in solar energy. Our commitment to solar can be found in this Solar Statement, which was endorsed by the Board of Supervisors on February 19th, 2019. 

This webpage provides resources for residents and businesses interested in installing solar panels in Fairfax County. For more information about the basics of solar energy, your solar options, and questions to ask solar professionals, refer to the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.

Solar Benefits

Solar energy uses a renewable energy source – the sun! In addition to reducing your electricity bill, using solar energy reduces your carbon footprint and the carbon footprint of Fairfax County. You also help reduce demand on the electricity grid during peak, sunny hours. Plus, by installing solar panels, you are helping support 3,900 solar jobs and 250 solar companies in Virginia (according to the Solar Energy Industries Association).

Solar Maps and Potential

Investigate your property’s solar potential by visiting the Northern Virginia Regional Commission's NOVA Solar Map. You can also estimate the performance of potential solar projects using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator.

Finding a Contractor

Certified solar installers can be found through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners®. Visit the county's Consumer Services webpage for general tips about hiring a contractor.

Dealing with Solicitors

Fairfax County residents should be aware of their rights and the regulations surrounding door-to-door solicitation in the county. If a salesperson comes to your door with information about solar panels or installation, please ask to see their county-issued license before engaging with them. Never provide your personal information (birthdate, social security number, etc.) to a solicitor. If you encounter an unlicensed solicitor, please contact the Fairfax County Police non-emergency line at 703-691-2131. More information on door-to-door solicitation can be found here.

Policies and Processes

Solar panels are permitted accessory structures on all developed properties in Fairfax County provided that they serve the property and are subordinate in purpose, area and extent to the building or use served. For more information, refer to the last entry on the Department of Planning and Zoning's FAQ page.

To learn about the permitting and inspection process, refer to Land Development Services' page about Residential Solar Panels. Assuming your application is straightforward, our permit turnaround time is same-day. The Permit Checklist also includes Typical Residential Solar Plans that can be used to increase the speed of your application process.

Financing and Incentives

A 3-10 kW residential solar installation will typically cost $8,000-$30,000. Residential solar panels can be purchased outright or financed with a loan from a solar installer, bank, or other financial institution.

Fairfax County offers a number of incentives to encourage residents and businesses to install solar panels. The county's Land Development Services division waives the permit fee for solar permit applications, and the county's Department of Tax Administration provides a solar energy equipment tax exemption. In the spring, Fairfax County typically offers a Solarize campaign, which features free onsite assessments, bulk discount prices, vetted contractors, and community workshops and support.

The federal government currently offers a 26% tax credit, which will be reduced to 22% in 2023 and expires December 31, 2023.

Solar Rights

Under Virginia state law (§56-594), residential customers may install systems up to 20 kilowatts and non-residential customers may install systems up to 500 kilowatts. Electric utilities must credit solar panel owners for excess electricity generated through something called "net metering." Your solar contractor should coordinate with your electric utility to replace your standard meter with a net meter after your panels are installed. The net meter is bi-directional, tracking electrons flowing both out of and into the grid. 

Under Virginia state law (§67-701), homeowner associations (HOAs) typically cannot prohibit solar installations. However, the law allows "reasonable restrictions concerning the size, place, and manner of placement." For more information refer to this Solarize webpage or talk to your solar installer. 

Under Virginia state law (§55-353), property owners can form solar easements with their neighbors. A solar easement enables you and a neighbor to voluntarily form an agreement under which the neighbor will not shade your property. The easement then applies to later owners of the neighboring property.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant