Dominion plans energy storage facility for Chesterfield
One of the state’s largest energy storage facilities is on track to open in Chesterfield County this year, as Dominion Energy Inc. works to achieve state-mandated clean energy goals.
The Dry Bridge Energy Storage project will feature row after row of installations that resemble shipping containers, each housing batteries that collectively have the capacity to store 20 megawatts of energy.
It’s part of Dominion’s effort to meet the state’s requirement that the utility generate all its electricity for use in the commonwealth from clean energy sources by 2045.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission is reviewing Dominion’s application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity, while the utility hopes to complete permitting requirements with Chesterfield County officials early this year, according to Dominion spokesman Jeremy L. Slayton.
As the energy giant transitions away from fossil fuels and toward greater reliance on solar and offshore wind energy production, storing excess energy will be a necessity. “Storage is key because the wind isn’t always blowing [and] the sun isn’t always shining,” Slayton says.
While Dry Bridge will be its biggest energy storage facility so far, the 20 megawatts will barely put a dent in the state-mandated 2,700 megawatts of storage Dominion must achieve by 2035. In addition to Dry
Bridge, a planned Loudoun County facility will offer 50 megawatts of storage, and various smaller pilot projects will total 16 megawatts.
That leaves 2,614 megawatts of battery storage to go. Meeting that goal would require a massive increase in storage technology, leaving many to wonder if lawmakers set an unattainable goal.
During a September 2021 gubernatorial debate, Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin said he wouldn’t have signed the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act, adding that energy executives didn’t think it was feasible.
Mike Doyle, a senior equity analyst at Edward Jones specializing in utilities, says utility-scale battery storage is relatively new technology. Advocates for expanding the state’s capacity are banking on the batteries becoming more efficient during the next decade. And, he says, “that’s typically what we see with technology, whether personal computers or things on the utility side.”
Still, Doyle says, Dominion must balance expanding battery storage capacity with the cost passed on to customers.
“If the costs don’t come down or technology doesn’t improve as much and it starts impacting customers’ rates more than it is comfortable for regulators in Virginia, you could see it slowed down,” Doyle says.