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Virginia agencies will use more renewable energy to power state operations

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Monday that state agencies would increase their use of renewable energy to power government operations.  The target is for state government to derive about 8 percent of its electricity from solar energy within the next three years.

McAuliffe announced the initiative as part of the release of a report compiled by the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission.

It includes a series of recommendations for McAuliffe to address the impacts of climate change on the commonwealth.  The renewable energy goal calls for a diverse portfolio of solar projects to be built primarily on state-owned property, with state agencies utilizing the power generated to supplement existing electricity usage and reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint.

“The renewable energy procurement target will lower the state’s carbon emissions and help grow the solar industry in Virginia, a key strategy for building a new Virginia economy,” McAuliffe said.

The initiative will facilitate the deployment of 110 megawatts of solar generation through agreements with Dominion Virginia Power and independent, third party developers. McAuliffe's plan  focuses on accelerating the deployment of renewable energy, including building at least 15 megawatts of solar on state property by the end of his administration.

According to Dominion, the state will purchase the solar-generated electricity through a long-term agreement with the company.

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 said it would 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 developed.

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

The Richmond-based energy company said customers would not experience a rate change because of the agreement. Any costs associated with this program will be paid by the state.

Once completed, the 110 megawatts of solar is expected to generate about as much energy as is consumed by the entire community college system annually.

Dominion said the 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.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones will spearhead the new initiative with the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy as the lead agency. 

A full report of the Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission is available here.

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