Here’s a cool deal: Pittsylvania County, Virginia, will be the home of a new 120-MW solar farm that will support both Amazon’s massive HQ2 and accompanying operations in state as well the government operations of nearby Arlington County. Dominion Energy is expected to begin construction in 2020 with completion planned for the summer of 2021 and full operations to kick in 2022. The solar farm site is between Danville and Lynchburg and is currently primarily agricultural land.
Arlington County is purchasing output from nearly one-third of the solar farm via Dominion Energy Virginia; and, under a separate agreement, as majority buyer, Amazon is purchasing the remaining 82 MW of the project, which is expected to generate 172,500 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually. It will be Amazon’s tenth renewable energy project in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
For Arlington County, its portion of the production will support more than 80 percent of the electricity used annually for all County buildings, streetlights, traffic signals, water pumping, and wastewater treatment. The project goes beyond the County’s adopted Community Energy Plan goal of having at least 50 percent of the electricity for County operations come from renewable sources by 2022.
“This is a groundbreaking partnership for the County,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “It will take us a long way toward our goal of 100 percent use of renewable sources for all electricity used in government operations by 2025.”
County deal details
The agreement will not require any capital funding or upfront costs from the County. The solar farm will generate electricity that Dominion sells into the wholesale electric grid at market rates. The price for the delivered energy and renewable attributes will be the difference between the wholesale power price and the contract fixed price. Arlington County is the first locality in the Commonwealth to enter into a power purchase agreement of this scale for off-site solar energy with an investor-owned utility company.
For the first year, the net credit or cost will be estimated based on price forecasts and estimates of electricity production. In each subsequent year, the credit or cost will be reset based on the previous year’s actual production and costs.
Arlington County currently pays Dominion Energy for electricity. Over time, this agreement is expected to be cost neutral. The project will have no impact on customer rates.
— Solar Builder magazine