Renewable energy is heating up (pun intended) in Fairfax County. Since the Solarize Fairfax County program began in early April, more than 750 households have signed up for free solar assessments, and to learn more about pricing and finance options with private contractors. Four contracts already have been signed, a number that is rising weekly, as interested residents discover how much they can save in their electricity bill, and qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit through 2019. Fairfax County also offers a credit on real estate taxes, and the county waives all permit fees for the installation of solar systems. Interested residents and business owners must act quickly, as the discounted purchasing opportunity with the Solarize Fairfax County program ends on June 30. More information is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov.
While not all buildings are situated to take advantage of solar, sometimes it just takes small tweaks to let the sun power your home or business. Last weekend, I visited a home in Lake Barcroft, where the owners had a 33-panel solar system installed on the roof of their lakeside home last fall (before the Solarize Fairfax County program started), and are extremely pleased with both the work and the savings already experienced. The owner, an electrical engineer by training, said he had been watching the improved solar technologies across decades, and is encouraging his neighbors to consider solar. No solar panels can be seen from the street side of the home; the panels face the lake on the rear of the roof, but even then, they are barely observable from the lake, because of the topography and screening trees. Snow on the roof this winter, the owner told me, was no problem. Within an hour after snow ended, the snow on the panels had melted, and the panels were generating electricity as usual.
With the recent malware intrusions reported across the globe, this region’s position in cyber security becomes more critical. A recent meeting hosted by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) highlighted potential cyber risks and how to address them. Military and business experts noted that the “Internet of Things,” as well as the leapfrog pace of technology advancements, demand a change in strategy and tactics at all levels – local, state, federal, business, military, and more.
Cyber security is similar to a public health crisis, one of the panelists noted, demanding a lot of integration between affected entities. Rather than medical professionals, a cyber crisis demands cyber talent, and Northern Virginia’s workforce is uniquely positioned to solve the crisis – if we can get our act together! Cyber has eliminated geography, another panelist said, as people and devices are connected, anywhere and everywhere in the world. The workforce challenge can be solved by providing additional course opportunities for career transitioners, like retiring military personnel, as well as certifications and apprenticeships for graduating high school students. Fairfax County’s high school academies and Northern Virginia Community College are important partners in this effort. The NVRC group will meet again in July to delve further into the workforce issues and how, as a region, Northern Virginia can meet current, and future, cybersecurity challenges, together.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]