How Dominion Energy went from zero to 1.3 GW of solar in Virginia, North Carolina in two years

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Backed by an ongoing $1 billion investment, Dominion Energy has grown its solar fleet in Virginia and North Carolina over the last two years from near zero to approximately 1,350 MW in service, in construction or under development. That is enough clean energy to power nearly 340,000 homes during peak sunshine.

Dominion Energy’s solar fleet is ranked the sixth largest among owners of U.S. electric utilities, and according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Virginia also is sixth in climbing the state rankings for solar energy.

“It’s not just about Dominion Energy meeting its clean energy goals, it’s also about helping our customers achieve theirs,” said Paul Koonce, president and CEO of Dominion Energy’s Power Generation Group. “We have a responsibility to offer the right programs, resources and solutions so our customers can make smart decisions about their energy future, and the key is we’re doing it together.”

What’s next? Dominion Energy’s long-term energy forecast calls for another 5.2 GW of new solar generation in the next 25 years, enough to power 1.3 million homes at peak output.

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Here is how it’s being accomplished:

Virginia

• There are 27 solar generating facilities on 4,683 acres, which equates to about 444 MW of solar capacity either in operation or under development in the Commonwealth.

• The construction of another 300 MW of solar is planned to support Facebook’s eighth data center in the U.S., to be located in Henrico County.

• As part of its Solar Partnership Program, company-owned rooftop or ground-mounted solar arrays are installed on leased commercial properties, such as Philip Morris, Capital One, Prologis, Canon, Merck and various educational institutions.

• Large-scale solar facilities up to 100 MW in size are sprinkled across the state and are done in partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the U.S. Navy, University of Virginia, Microsoft and Amazon.

• Residential customers are participating in a private solar pro-gram that allows them to offset their energy usage with their own rooftop solar generating system.

North Carolina

• There are 13 projects totaling 353 MW that Dominion Energy has brought or is bringing online in North Carolina by 2019. Additionally, there are 82 projects owned by third-party developers that are operating or being developed totaling 550 MW.

“More and more companies have set their own goals for renewable energy and we will back them,” Koonce said. “Our programs are intended to meet their needs and help strengthen Virginia’s reputation as the ideal place to do business.”

Dominion Energy is seeking State Corporation Commission approval for a 100 percent renewable energy option for residential and small commercial and industrial custom-ers, as well as an option for business customers to purchase renewable generation equal to a specific portion of their energy usage. In addition, once approved, the Community Solar Pilot Program will enable customers in Virginia to voluntarily pur-chase renewable energy from locally-sited solar installations to meet a portion of their needs.

 

— Solar Builder magazine

Largest South Carolina solar project now online with Dominion Energy

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Dominion Energy has added two South Carolina solar energy projects – including the largest such project in the Palmetto State – to its service portfolio.

The company’s 71.4-megawatt Solvay Solar Energy-Jasper County, S.C., facility, located near Ridgeland, S.C., came online on Dec. 21, 2017. It has a long-term power purchase agreement with SCE&G. Solvay – an international chemicals and advanced materials company with U.S. sites, among others, in Charleston, Greenville, Piedmont, Rock Hill and Spartanburg – is purchasing all of the associated renewable energy credits (RECs) for 15 years.

Dominion Energy’s 10-megawatt Ridgeland Solar project, which began commercial operations on May 28, 2017, has both a PPA and REC agreement with SCE&G. The two projects created about 200 temporary construction jobs.

Dominion Energy is pleased to bring this additional clean, solar energy to South Carolina,” said Paul D. Koonce, president and chief executive officer of the company’s Power Generation Group. “We are happy to provide South Carolina Electric & Gas additional renewable resources and help an excellent corporate citizen in Solvay reduce its carbon intensity.”

Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Energy brought online 466 megawatts of solar generating capacity in 2017 in California, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The company invested more than $900 million in those projects, which can serve nearly 120,000 homes and businesses in the four states.

— Solar Builder magazine

Partnership involving Microsoft to bring 20-MW of solar to Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia, Microsoft and Dominion Virginia Power formed a partnership to construct a new facility and bring 20 MW of solar energy onto the grid in Virginia—enough energy to power 5,000 homes.

dominion solar power“This agreement is a tremendous step forward in our ongoing effort to make Virginia a leader in the renewable energy economy,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “This partnership will help lower carbon emissions in Virginia and diversify our energy portfolio, while growing the solar and data center industries in Virginia. This is a prime example of the type of creative thinking and public-private cooperation we need to build a new Virginia economy.”

“By investing in these projects and partnering with states and utilities, Microsoft can provide long-term certainty needed to expand the amount of renewable energy available on the grid,” said Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist, Microsoft. “We are pleased to play a role in this project, as it will bring new, additional clean energy onto the grid in Virginia.”

Dominion Virginia Power will construct the facility on land it already owns in Fauquier County, adjacent to its Remington generating station.

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“This forward-looking partnership will assist us in our continued commitment to increase the renewable energy available to serve our customers in Virginia,” said Thomas F. Farrell, II, Chairman, President and CEO of Dominion Resources. “Microsoft and the Commonwealth play key roles in making this large-scale solar project possible, and we look forward to working with them.”

The project is anticipated to be in service in late 2017, subject to regulatory approval.

Dominion committed to 400 MW of solar in Virginia by 2020. Microsoft has previously announced agreements to purchase 175 megawatts of wind energy in Illinois that fully powers their Chicago data center with wind energy and 110 MW of wind energy in Texas that powers their San Antonio data center.

— Solar Builder magazine

Dominion Virginia Power strikes deal for 110 MW of solar

Dominion Virginia Power and the Commonwealth of Virginia reached an agreement to deploy 110 MW of solar power generation. Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Dominion joined together to announce the multi-year agreement. The Commonwealth will purchase the solar-generated electricity through a long-term agreement with Dominion.

dominion solar power“This is another positive step toward furthering the new Virginia economy and will create jobs here in the Commonwealth while reducing the state’s carbon footprint,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “We are committed to solar energy development, and I am pleased to work with Dominion to expand renewable generation in Virginia.”

RELATED: 56-MW of solar facilities planned by Dominion Virginia Power by end of 2016 

“Dominion agrees, solar generation is an important element of a low-carbon, balanced and diverse generation mix,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion Resources Inc., the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power. “We are proud to partner with the Commonwealth in its pursuit of making Virginia a leader in clean energy technology.”

Dominion Virginia Power will build up to 75 percent of the solar capacity and third-party solar developers will develop 25 percent of the capacity. Dominion will work with various state agencies to determine the location and size of the individual facilities. Timeline for construction and costs will be determined as individual projects are scoped and developed.

Other Dominion customers will not experience a rate change because of this agreement. Any costs associated with this program will be paid by the state. This partnership is another example of Dominion’s commitment to increase solar in Virginia. The company announced earlier this year that it plans to add at least 400 megawatts of solar by 2020.

— Solar Builder magazine

Dominion Energy takes charge of 80-MW solar facility in Virginia

dominion solar powerDominion Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Dominion, acquired an 80-MW solar facility in Virginia from project developer Community Energy. This is going to be one of the largest solar facilities in the mid-Atlantic region, and construction is expected to begin later in 2015. The facility would enter service in fall 2016.

Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East is located in Accomack County near Oak Hall, Va., on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The facility’s construction was enabled through a long-term power purchase agreement with an affiliate of Amazon’s cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Interconnection agreements have also been secured with Delmarva Power. An engineering, procurement and construction contract has been signed.

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AWS has publicly shared its long-term goal to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure, with a milestone goal of achieving 40 percent renewable energy usage by the end of 2016. The power from Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East will enable AWS to increase renewable energy on the electrical grid that supplies both current and future AWS data centers.

This is the first project that has been approved under Virginia’s permit-by-rule process for renewable energy projects with nameplate generating capacities of less than 100 megawatts. The statute streamlines the permitting process, allowing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to issue bulk permits to construct and operate qualifying renewable energy projects.

“We look forward to expanding our relationship with Amazon as it seeks to increase the mix of renewable energy on the electric grid powering its data centers,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion. “This project also shows Dominion’s commitment to building additional clean, renewable solar facilities in Virginia.”

“This ground-breaking solar project in Virginia shows what can happen when you bring together a national energy leader like Dominion and a global web services provider like Amazon Web Services with forward-looking leaders in Accomack County and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Brent Alderfer, president of Community Energy, Inc., developer of the project. “This is a model for a new solar industry in the region and nationally.”

Dominion has 425 MW of solar generating capacity in operation or expected to enter service in 2015 in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Utah. Included in this portfolio is the 20-megawatt Maricopa West project in Kern County, Calif., that Dominion recently acquired from E.ON Solar. Construction is complete and the facility, which has a long-term power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric, is undergoing final testing before it becomes fully operational.

Dominion has agreed to sell a 33 percent partnership interest in that contracted solar portfolio to SunEdison, Inc. In addition, Dominion is also a 50-percent partner in two Utah projects totaling 530 megawatts. That joint venture is also with SunEdison, and the projects are expected to come online in 2016.

 

— Solar Builder magazine