Virginia forestry department HQ gets new solar panels

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WHSV) — Virginia's forestry department has put up new solar panels on its headquarters as part of an effort to provide cleaner energy to state buildings.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the 120 kilowatt project at a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.

“The Virginia Department of Forestry project is truly an innovative model that will enable our state agencies to produce clean energy on-site while reducing their utility bills,” said Governor Northam. “As the demand for renewable energy increases, investments like this are important for our Commonwealth because they spur economic development and help to expand job opportunities in the fast-growing solar industry.”

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is working with state agencies to install more solar projects in state buildings, and the forestry department headquarters is just one of five state agency projects.

“VDOF believes in leading by example, and we live this at our headquarters, the Garner Building in Charlottesville,” said State Forester Rob Farrell. “Our grounds provide a classroom for teaching proper tree care, as well as providing wildlife habitat, pollinator gardens, and a seedling nursery. Hosting this solar project is a natural extension of our commitment to sustainability and we are proud to be a part of the Governor’s solar initiative.”

The installation at the forestry building was funded by money previously received from the U.S. Department of Energy during the Obama administration. A local company, Sun Tribe Solar, installed the solar panel system.

“As a Virginia-based company, we’re proud of the fact that the Commonwealth is embracing a 21st century economy built on the foundation of clean, affordable energy,” said Devin Welch, Chief Strategy Officer of Sun Tribe Solar. “This project is proof that partners in both the public and private sectors are seeing the benefits of using solar to power Virginia’s growth.”