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Video: Fairfax County School Board Votes Unanimously to Take a Step Forward on Solar Power

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Great job by the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) Board on taking a significant step forward tonight on solar power – and ultimately climate action – in the schools. See below for the “Solar PPA Pilot” amendment (and for video of the vote on it a few minutes ago) by School Board member Pat Hynes, who has been a leader in this area. The Pilot envisions completing “the installation of solar panels on at least three schools upon the conclusion of the joint County and Schools RFP…Those three schools are Chantilly High School, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and Mason Crest Elementary School.”

Thanks to everyone involved in this, including Ryan McElveen – another leader on clean energy and climate action – who seconded Hynes’ motion.  [UPDATE: I had originally praised Jeffrey Platenberg, Assistant Superintendent, Department of Facilities and Transportation Services, but took it out after I received feedback indicating that Platenberg has actually been a major obstacle to progress on this issue over the years. I’m now told by someone who I trust that while there’s no doubt that Platenberg has moved slowly on putting solar in schools – and they’re not sure why he’s been that way – that in this case he does deserve some credit. Whatever the case may be, let’s hope that going forward, Platenberg moves aggressively on making Fairfax County public school buildings as green as possible – and as quickly as possible!]

The next steps? First of all, once this pilot gets going, it needs to be scaled up as quickly as possible – keeping in mind the urgency of the climate crisis we’re facing – preferably on all schools and ultimately all government buildings in Fairfax County. Second, it would be great if Fairfax County could serve as a model for other jurisdictions in Virginia to move forward aggressively on transitioning to clean energy. Third, this entire effort needs to broaden out, beyond government buildings, to the rest of the “built environment” – private homes and businesses. At that point, we’ll really be talking. But for now, this Solar PPA Pilot is a good start…