Industries Energy/Green

SCC denies Dominion Virginia Power’s application for solar facility

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Saying that Dominion Virginia Power must seek third-party market alternatives to building a facility itself, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) Tuesday denied the company’s application for a proposed solar-electric generating facility.

Dominion wants to build a 20-megawatt facility near its Remington natural-gas power station in Fauquier County. The SCC noted in a news release that Virginia law requires the company to demonstrate it has considered alternative options, including third-party market alternatives, during its process for selecting the Remington Solar Facility.

Virginia law also requires the commission to consider the extent to which such a proposed facility is likely to result in unreasonable increases in rates paid by consumers.

“As a small renewable solar project, the Remington Solar Facility is one type of generation resource that the General Assembly has identified as in the public interest,” the commission said in its final order.

“The General Assembly, however, has not declared it to be in the public interest that renewable power can only be obtained from the applicant’s own self-build project … or at any
price, no matter how burdensome to consumers.”

The commission cited testimony from the Solar Association, the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition and the Virginia Sierra Club that a “request for proposal process” could have provided evidence as to whether lower cost alternatives exist to provide this renewable power.

The commission also noted that the Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Counsel asserted that the company had failed to satisfy the statutory requirements necessary for approval.

According to the record established in the case, the SCC said the estimated cost of the proposed facility would be $2,350 per kilowatt. Its average annual operating time would be 22 percent (known as capacity factor).

The SCC wrote, “The comparatively high cost to consumers and low capacity factor ... underscore that serious and credible efforts, as required by the General Assembly, must be made to determine whether lower cost alternatives for obtaining renewable power are available in the market from third parties.”

The project would have been Dominion’s first utility-scale solar facility in Virginia.  The SCC said the company can refile an application that meets statutory requirements.

Dominion said in a statement, “We are disappointed in this setback in our efforts to add renewable energy. We believe we have shown this project is among the most cost-effective ways to add solar generated capacity in Virginia. Large-scale solar is needed in order to meet new federal carbon rules, diversify Dominion’s fuel mix and support bipartisan legislation passed in the General Assembly and signed by the governor, to build at least 500 megawatts of solar generation in the state by 2020.  We are evaluating our options regarding this project. “

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