RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Corrections yesterday received a Governor’s Honor Award for diversifying its energy sources by planning and building a solar farm at Haynesville Correctional Center.
Haynesville’s five-acre solar farm hosts an 852.72 kW solar photovoltaic system with an array of 2,508 photovoltaic modules – solar panels that will reduce both the facility’s energy consumption and its reliance on non-renewable energy resources.
The panels will provide about 16 percent of the Haynesville, Virginia facility’s electricity needs at an estimated cost savings of about $120,000 annually.
Additionally, offender workers will have the opportunity to assist VADOC staff in maintaining the solar operation, thereby gaining job skills and improving their chances of successfully reentering society upon release from prison.
“The Virginia Department of Corrections strives to be a good steward of environmental resources while promoting long-lasting public safety and opportunities for returning citizens to reenter their communities successfully,” said VADOC Director Harold Clarke. “This innovative solar panel effort demonstrates the kind of work that makes the Department a nationwide leader in the corrections profession as well as a good neighbor.”
VADOC received a Governor’s Honor Award for Diversification of Energy Sources during ceremonies held yesterday at the Governor’s Executive Mansion in Richmond. Governor Ralph Northam’s 2018 Energy Plan calls for state facilities to meet a 16 percent renewable energy goal before 2023.
A federal grant through the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) helped fund the project that also gained support from a partnership with James Madison University. VADOC’s project is one of three state projects that received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy through DMME.
The solar farm at Haynesville is not VADOC’s first solar project. Three years ago, VADOC implemented hot water solar panels at St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake. The Haynesville effort is larger and will allow the facility to receive about one-fifth of its electricity from a renewable resource.
The Virginia Department of Corrections has the nation’s lowest recidivism rate, at 23.4 percent, a distinction it has held for the last three years.