On April 10, 2019 Gentry Locke Partner Chip Dicks presented information to attendees of the Tom Tom Conference on using solar energy and the creativity of the private sector to enable localities to better address public school building needs. Below are Chip’s comments.
Delegate Nick Rush and Senator Bill Stanley sponsored transformative legislation to create a new paradigm for building public schools and facilities, using solar energy and the creativity of the private sector.
The private sector has come forward with a tool in the toolbox for localities to help address public school building needs. The private sector has showed us how using energy-positive schools can save about one-third of the cost of the traditional model of building public schools. This private sector business model also uses Federal Investment Tax Credits for Solar installation, Federal New Market Tax Credits, and Federal Opportunity Zones to help reduce the debt service and operational costs so the total cost savings can be more than 50%.
The legislation provides that is it the legislative intent that public schools be built as energy-positive buildings. We need to use such tools to make taxpayer dollars go further.
Since lawyers and financial advisors need to provide opinion letters on these types of deals, this legislation provides statutory authority for localities to work with private developers under existing procurement methods, so the opinion letters can be based upon the statutory law.
Finally, this legislation provides two financing options for private developers: local IDAs or EDAs and the Virginia Small Business Financing Agency.
These two pieces of legislation become effective on July 1, 2019.