Solar Energy Resources

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Getting Started with Solar

Welcome to Wise County’s solar resource webpage. Wise County is seeking ways to encourage solar energy development in our community. This webpage represents a collection of solar information and resources for the community. Our community’s solar commitment and goals can be found below.  For more information about the basics of solar energy, your solar options, and questions to ask solar professionals, read the Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power and visit the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.

Our Solar Goals

Wise County will leverage SolSmart to achieve the following goals:

  • Develop and execute a community solar program.
  • Develop and continue a streamlined process for solar permitting or inspections.
  • Market our community as a solar friendly locality and advocate for the increase investment of solar infrastructure and technology.
  • Educate ourselves and prepare our community for utility scale solar opportunities.

Our Solar Commitment

The Wise County Board of Supervisors and Wise County Building & Zoning Department is committed to exceptional customer services as it relates to solar processes. To promote the continued advancement of solar in our community we are committed to the following:

Small Rooftop or Ground Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Permit Process Commitment

  • Providing clear guidelines about the solar permitting and inspection process.ResidentialSolarArray
  • A Building Permit application consisting of an Electrical and Mechanical Permit fee is the only application required to be submitted for Ground Mounted or Rooftop Photovoltaic (PV) Systems. 
  • After review and approval of the submitted application, you will be notified that the permit is ready to be issued.
  • Contractors that are applying for Photovoltaic systems installation must have the AES designation on the Department of Professional Occupation Regulation (DPOR) license.
  • Review time of the application and construction documents will not exceed 3 days.
  • No more than 2 inspections required for a rooftop solar array.
  • We offer an inspection appointment time for solar (as opposed to an appointment window). Contact the Building & Zoning Department to schedule your appointment time.
  • Solar PV inspections will be completed within 5 days of the inspection request. View our inspection checklist here
  • The permit fees for small rooftop or ground mounted solar PV is $51.
  • You may stop by the Office of Building and Zoning in the Wise County Courthouse and pay for the permit or send payment by mail and have the permit mailed or emailed to you.

Commercial Solar Photovoltaic Permit Process Commitment

  • A Building Permit application is the only application required to be submitted for Commercial Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System.
  • Submittal of the completed building permit application, drawings and calculations of the proposed system will initiate the process in which a permit will be issued. GettyImages-1278948452-e1fdce3baef44af28f449ab36d6717f3
  • Contractors that are applying for Photovoltaic systems installation must have the AES designation on the DPOR license.
  • Review time of the application and construction documents will not exceed 1 week.
  • After review and approval of the submitted application, you will be notified that the permit is ready to be issued.
  • The flat rate permit fee for commercial applications of solar PV systems are:
    • 5 kilowatts or less: $150
    • 5 to 10 kilowatts: $200
    • 10 to 15 kilowatts: $250
    • 15 kilowatts and up: $300
  • You may stop by the Office of Building and Zoning in the Wise County Courthouse and pay for the permit or send payment by mail and have the permit mailed or emailed to you.

Solar Benefits

Solar energy uses a renewable energy source – the sun – and provides many benefits for individuals and the community. It improves environmental quality by reducing carbon emissions and air pollution, supports local solar companies in Virginia, saves money on energy costs as the price continues to drop from technological developments, and improves electric grid resilience during peak demand and other stresses to the system.

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Solar Maps and Potential

Investigate your property’s solar potential by clicking here. You can also estimate the performance of potential PV projects using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator

  • Click HERE for a map of solar installations in Wise County. Select “Solar Installations” under the “Utilities” map layer.

Finding a Contractor and Going Solar

Find a solar contractor (or two) to assess your home for solar energy and provide a quote.

  • Certified practitioners can be found through NABCEP.
  • Visit EnergySage to learn about solar energy and submit for solar quotes from a network of pre-screened, local solar installers 
  • Consumer Solar Checklist – a checklist for residential consumers considering solar energy from IREC, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Financing, Incentives, and Tax Exemptions

Typically solar installations are paid for through loans or cash, with Federal and State incentives available.

Job Training and Educational Opportunities

If you are interested in pursuing a career in solar energy, here are some links to regional and national educational courses, programs, and/or trainings offered from colleges, universities, technical institutions, and non-profits.

  • Mountain Empire Community College – Energy Technology. Graduates of the Energy Technology program are trained in the job skills necessary for employment as an entry level HVAC/Electrical technician in both commercial and residential fields. These fields include leading edge technologies such as geothermal, solar PV installation, and solar thermal systems. Graduates will find employment in various industries and service sectors as HVAC technicians or electricians.
  1. Mineral Gap Solar

    $500K grant will open solar project in Wise County – July 31, 2019

    A large-scale solar project is being planned in Wise County thanks to a $500,000 grant from a program focused on reclaiming and developing abandoned mine sites. Additional Info...
  2. nature-conservancy-blog-cover

    TNC Announces Innovative Collaboration for Solar Development in Central Appalachia – May 10, 2021

    The Nature Conservancy, Sun Tribe, and Sol Systems will pursue the development of some of the first utility-scale solar projects on former coal mines in the region. Additional Info...
  3. Sun Tribe CEO Danny Van Clief

    Former coal mine land to be transformed into solar energy sites in Wise County – June 3, 2021

    Five different sites in Wise County are designated to become utility-scale solar farms over the next few years. Additional Info...
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