For Immediate Release

June 10, 2020

Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia issues Request for Qualifications for Solar Co-Development Partner


Chelsea Barnes, New Economy Program Manager


Norton, VA — The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia today released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a solar co-development partner for commercial-scale solar projects throughout the seven-county coalfield region. The workgroup seeks to enter into an agreement to collaboratively identify, design, finance, and install cost-effective, commercial-scale solar projects. Interested firms are invited to submit information regarding their qualifications as the potential partner.

“Thanks to recent legislative changes, Southwest Virginia is a new market for solar energy development, and the workgroup is excited to team up with a solar development partner that can help us optimize the local benefits of this important economic development opportunity,” said Adam Wells, Regional Director of Community and Economic Development for Appalachian Voices, a co-convenor of the workgroup. “The workgroup prioritizes the creation of jobs and training opportunities for Southwest Virginia residents, and seeks to partner with an entity that is committed to developing bold and creative approaches to ensure that development activities meet the workgroup’s goals.”

“The solar industry has great potential to help boost the economy in Southwest Virginia,” said Bryan Phipps, Vice President & Chief Development Officer at People Incorporated. “People Inc. is proud to be a part of the Solar Workgroup and to help build on years of collaboration in the region to establish an innovative pathway for more solar economic development opportunities in the region.”

The RFQ builds on the workgroup’s past experiences with two commercial-scale group purchase programs and a related Request for Information released earlier this year in April. The workgroup seeks to bring its capacities for site identification, customer acquisition, and public education and outreach to a partnership with a  solar industry company interested in collaboratively developing commercial-scale solar projects throughout the region.

The workgroup is facilitating this program as part of its mission to utilize the development of solar energy as an economic catalyst in the region, which includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties, and the City of Norton. The program is being launched after eight Southwest Virginia communities achieved designation under the national SolSmart program for taking steps to encourage the growth of local solar energy markets. These are the first communities in the Central Appalachian region to have applied for and received the SolSmart designation.

Questions regarding the RFQ should be submitted by June 24. The workgroup will host an optional pre-submittal call for further information on June 30. Final responses to the RFQ are due July 15.

Visit the workgroup’s website for more information.

The Solar Workgroup is comprised of nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, state agencies, planning district commissions, and other interested citizens and businesses seeking to develop a renewable energy industry cluster in the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia. The Workgroup was co-convened in 2016 by the UVA-Wise Office of Economic Development & Engagement, People Inc., and Appalachian Voices, with facilitation assistance from Dialogue + Design Associates.