IN BRIEF: Solarize Piedmont campaign begins


During the spring of 2017, residents and businesses within PEC’s nine-county service area can take advantage of Solarize Piedmont — a cooperative program with The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) to bring solar power to more people in the Commonwealth.

Solarize Piedmont is open to residents of Albemarle, Charlottesville, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock Counties.

The campaign runs March 15 through April 30, 2017.

Solar can perform many valuable functions such as providing peak power close to the load, energy security, cost savings, local employment opportunities and emission reductions.

What do past participants have to say:

“We are tracking to have our investment recuperated in about 10 years. After that—every month is money in the bank. In the meantime, our electric bills are half to fully zero of our previous bills and we are showing our neighbors that it can be done.” — Jimmy O’Connor, participant in the 2015 Solarize Piedmont campaign

“Our Dominion bills for May through October were $8 a month, which is the standard connection fee.” — Tiffany Parker, participant in the 2015 Solarize Piedmont campaign

“We are delighted with the results and are waiting for the days to get longer and our Dominion bill to decrease. The final look turned out to be totally unobtrusive both on the residence and the commercial building.” — Lynn Wiley, participant in the 2016 Solarize Piedmont campaign

“We’re very excited to move to 100 percent solar generation for our farm.” — Kathryn Barker, participant in the 2016 Solarize Piedmont campaign

How it works

  • If residents or businesses are interested in getting solar, they can fill out the online form at
  • After that, LEAP will do a satellite assessment to see if their property has solar potential.
  • If it does, they will pass the information along to one of two qualified local solar installers, who will get in touch with the resident or business owner to schedule a site visit.
  • After that, the installer creates a proposal tailored for the resident or business owner and walks them through the financing options.
  • When the decision is made to move forward with a contract, the installer obtains all the necessary permits, orders the materials and equipment, and takes care of the installation.

Questions? Contact Bri West at The Piedmont Environmental Council, (540) 347-2334 ext. 7020

Bluebird folks

Photo by Larry Patterson

FFAC members show their support for the Bluebird Project.

Artists raise awareness for children in foster care


May is National Foster Care Month. Firnew Farm Artists’ Circle (FFAC) members supported the Bluebird-Art-on-a-Stick Project to help raise awareness for children in foster care.  The Bluebird collection will be displayed at The Haven, 112 Market St, Charlottesville, VA in May.  On May 5, during the lively First Friday Art Walk, the flock will be carried by volunteers to soar up and down the pedestrian mall, finally returning to their exhibition at The Haven.  After the bluebird parade, up to 50 bluebird artworks will be sold in a silent auction. Any funds raised will go toward helping children in foster care by training and supporting foster care families, and by giving foster children a voice in court through the advocacy work of Piedmont CASA Volunteers.The Bluebird Project is a creation of the Foster Care Adoption Awareness Coalition, which consists of these local nonprofits: Community Attention Foster Families (CAFF), Piedmont CASA, the departments of Social Services in Albemarle and Charlottesville, People Places, DePaul community resources, and Great expectations. Twenty-four of our 33 artists live in the counties of Albemarle, Culpeper, Madison and Greene. For more information contact Deb Erickson 434-996-9048 (text or call)


New laws target puppy mills

RICHMOND – Virginia soon will have three new laws that will impact its furry residents and their owners. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed bills that will bar pet stores from buying dogs from unscrupulous sellers, allow local governments to offer lifetime pet licenses and change the legal description of a “dangerous dog.”

McAuliffe signed the legislation last week. The bills will take effect July 1.

SB 852, introduced by Sen. William Stanley, R-Franklin, is aimed at brokers and breeders who sell dogs to pet shops. The new statute says the seller must have a valid license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Moreover, pet stores may not procure a dog “from a person who has received citations for one critical violation or three or more noncritical violations from the USDA in the two years prior to receiving the dog,” according to a summary of the bill by the Legislative Information System.

Violating the law will be a Class 1 misdemeanor for each dog sold or offered for sale. That is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Tabitha Treloar, director of communications at the Richmond SPCA, said the organization is grateful for the new law.

“SB 852 closed loopholes in a section of code that became law in 2015, making it clear that pet stores may not acquire pets either directly or indirectly from puppy mills,” Treloar said. “While adopting from a reputable shelter or humane society will always be the best way to get a new companion, this is a law that helps to protect Virginia customers, and we are grateful to Sen. Stanley for carrying this bill and to Gov. McAuliffe for signing it into law.”

McAuliffe also signed HB 1477, sponsored by Del. Robert Orrock, R-Caroline County. It will allow local governments to provide lifetime licenses for cats and dogs for a maximum fee of $50. (The cost of an annual pet license will remain at up to $10.)

The lifetime license will be valid if the animal’s owner continues to reside in the locality and keeps up the animal’s rabies vaccinations. If an animal’s tag is lost, destroyed or stolen, the legislation sets a $1 fee for getting a duplicate tag.

The bill also states that local ordinances can require an animal to have an identifying microchip.

Pet owners must get a license for any dog or cat that is 4 months or older. Guide dogs or service dogs that serve disabled people are exempt.

McAuliffe also signed HB 2381, sponsored by Del. Matthew Farris, R-Rustburg. It modifies the legal description of a “dangerous dog.” It’s a designation with big ramifications: If a dog is officially labeled as dangerous, it is listed in an online registry, and the owner must get insurance and pay a $150 annual fee.

Farris wanted to give a dog the benefit of the doubt if it bites a person or another animal. The bill will give animal control officers the option of determining whether a dog should be considered dangerous just because it inflicts a nip, scratch or minor injury on someone, or on another pet.

Matthew Gray, Virginia state director of the Humane Society of the United States, applauded McAuliffe for signing the bills but was disappointed that other legislation failed during the General Assembly’s 2017 session.

“We are grateful that these bills have been signed by Gov. McAuliffe, who has traditionally supported our agenda,” Gray said. “But the House of Delegates defeated nine of 11 bills that would have expanded protections for animals, including bills to protect dogs from living their lives at the end of a chain and to prevent indiscriminate euthanasia in animal shelters. That’s a dismal failure and a profound illustration of the challenge animal welfare advocates face in Virginia.”

Contributed by Ashley Luck with Capital News Service