On May 3, the 2019 state budget report was released in a tweet. In Virginia, our state budget is revised every two years. The Governor proposes the budget bill every year, it is amended in odd-numbered years, and the budget is adopted in even-numbered years. This whole process happens in the General Assembly in Richmond without much fanfare, most people don’t pay attention to the state budget, much less follow their updates on Twitter.
This year, however, there is a reason to pay attention, especially if you’re interested in solar energy. As an odd year, 2019 brought many budget amendments into the mix. A crucial amendment was added to the VA Enterprise Zone Grant Program (VEZ). Now, if you plan to invest at least $50,000 in a solar installation, you could now be eligible to receive this grant.
Under Virginia law, this is an incentive program for partnership between state and local government to create jobs and private investment. It has two types of incentives: the Job Creation Grant, and the Real Property Investment Grant. The new solar amendment, with its minimum investment of $50,000, falls under the Real Property Investment Grant.
This amendment holds promise for the future of renewables in Virginia. One of the biggest stumbling blocks of solar installation is the start-up cost and capital needed to get projects running. This grant provides state-funded resources to developers who are committed to solar, but need an extra boost of funding to start their installation.
So, does this solar amendment really make a difference? Well, it’s especially significant when you think about how low the minimum investment for your solar project needs to be: $50,000.
Before this amendment was passed, to be eligible for the grant, “an individual or entity must invest at least $100,000 for rehabilitation or expansion projects and at least $500,000 for new construction projects.” This qualification is found under the “Eligibility” section of the VEZ program description. Since this solar amendment has been passed with a minimum investment of $50,000, the Department of Housing and Community Development may need to update their webpage.
In other words, the solar amendment has lowered the eligibility threshold for the VEZ program by half a million dollars. By applying for this grant, the state may be able to subsidize your solar!
Solar installation is a great way to capitalize on contaminated lands. The EPA has branded this type of development as “re-powering” and has an initiative devoted to it. Our blog has information on re-powering projects across America, and the 20 brownfields (formerly industrial lands) that are for sale in Virginia alone.
The current budget for the VEZ grant program is 14.5 million dollars. Now that the solar amendment has been incorporated, a whole new group of developers, job-creators, and private investors are eligible to submit their proposals. Applications can be submitted online for the grant year 2019. This is clearly a victory in the fight for solar power in Virginia. Amendments like these bring us steps closer to taking ownership of our energy production.