Several students joined county and school officials at an event formally launching Chesterfield's solar energy initiative Wednesday.
Chesterfield held an event Wednesday to “flip the switch” on solar energy use in the county with 11 solar-powered schools and municipal buildings, effectively offsetting more than 76,000 tons of carbon dioxide with clean, renewable energy.
The Board of Supervisors, School Board, Sun Tribe, Dominion Energy Solutions and more gathered at the Eanes-Pittman Public Safety Training Center to unveil the building’s use of solar power. The event featured Chesterfield youth flipping a giant breaker switch, signaling the county’s dedication to sustainability.
Through a partnership with Sun Tribe and Dominion Energy Solutions, the county has installed solar panels on seven public facilities that will go live this summer. The remaining four buildings will go live in the summer of 2024. Chesterfield expects this partnership to lead to significant renewable energy use in the future.
“As the fastest growing county in Virginia, it’s clear that special things are happening here in Chesterfield. This new solar installation on this public safety training center above our heads is the latest example of that,” said Devin Welch, CEO of the Charlottesville-based solar company Sun Tribe. “From end-to-end, this project is a Virginia-grown project. This clear demonstration of Chesterfield’s commitment to financial and environmental stewardship helps set Chesterfield apart as a leader in sustainability.”
Chesterfield’s implementation of solar energy highlights the county’s commitment to efficient, renewable energy, while additionally being cost-effective.
“Going solar is a very efficient choice to fulfill our energy needs to provide millions of dollars in central cost savings,” said Kevin P. Carroll, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “The county appreciates Sun Tribe’s partnership with schools and the county on this project. It’s really important to understand what is happening in our schools … how they’re helping educate our students about renewable energies, and the ways our students can actively participate within these clean solutions.”
Powering schools with solar energy allows Chesterfield students to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). At the event, student-made whirligigs from Enon Elementary were featured, showcasing students’ interest in STEM.
View a video produced by Chesterfield County Public Schools at https://youtu.be/krprzr-ELOY.
“The solar panels being installed on our schools and county buildings will of course convert sunlight to clean, renewable energy, but it will also engage our students and serve as an opportunity for real-time, real-world learning,” said School Board Chair Ann Coker. “As the solar-powered initiative demonstrates, we all win when we work together to do what’s right for the 65,000 students and for the entire community in Chesterfield. Solar panels in schools and county buildings are community-centered, future-facing and an environmentally responsible step forward, proving to be a win-win for Chesterfield County.”
At the event, General Services Director John Neal described the county as a leader in the effort of sustainability with the use of solar energy. Dominion Energy Solutions agrees, having collaborated with the county for more than a century.
“This partnership allows the county to lower its carbon footprint while providing long-term savings and offering real-life STEM and vocational opportunities for students,” said James Beazley, Dominion Energy’s Regional Policy Director. “With rooftop solar in 11 county buildings and schools, 3.1 megawatts of energy are generated… when fully operating, these solar panels are operating enough electricity to serve the equivalent of 750 homes.”
The 11 solar-powered county and school buildings are:
Speakers at the event declared the day a celebration, proud to implement solar energy and demonstrate the power of STEM.
“As you know, we have some young people here today to help flip the switch. I want to say thank you for that aspect of helping to train our future leaders,” said Carroll. “By setting an example at the local government level, my hope is that we spark an interest in the business community, our non-profits, and our residents involved.”
This blog post was written by Constituent and Media Services summer intern Kate Stanko, who is a rising junior at Virginia Tech