Dominion proposes nine new solar projects
Facilities would power up to 125K homes at peak output
Richmond-based Dominion Energy Inc. proposed a new slate of projects on Monday that would bring nearly 500 megawatts of solar energy to Virginia customers, enough to power around 125,000 homes at peak output.
The proposal, which the utility called “its largest slate yet of new solar projects” in a statement, was submitted for approval by the State Corporation Commission and follows the enactment of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam in April.
Six of the nine new solar projects would generate 416 megawatts of energy at peak output through power purchase agreements that Dominion said followed “a competitive solicitation process”; power purchase agreements are contracts between two parties where one generates electricity and another buys it. According to Dominion, this approach contributes to Virginia’s clean energy economy and fulfills a VCEA requirement of having approximately a third of new solar and onshore wind be procured through power purchase agreements through 2035.
The other three proposed solar projects are utility-owned. Dominion says they are expected to provide over $100 million in direct and indirect economic benefits in Virginia and support approximately 750 jobs. These projects are Grassfield Solar in Chesapeake, Norge Solar in James City County and Sycamore Solar in Pittsylvania County. Each of the facilities is under development and subject to approval by the State Corporation Commission before construction begins.
Grassfield Solar, which was acquired from Solar Access Development Group LLC and Blue Green Energy LLC, would provide 20 MW at peak output. Norge Solar, which was acquired from Clearway Energy Group, would provide 20 MW at peak output. Sycamore Solar, which was acquired from a joint venture between Open Road Renewables LLC and MAP Energy LLC, would provide 42 MW at peak output.
If approved, Dominion says the solar projects would add less than 20 cents to the typical residential electricity bill and be offset in part by fuel savings. The utility says these resources will help it meet the VCEA’s mandatory renewable portfolio standard, which generally requires that 100% of its electricity sales in Virginia be sourced from clean energy resources by 2045.
“This filing is another concrete step toward our commitment to bring more renewable energy to Virginia and build a clean, sustainable future for our customers and our Commonwealth,” said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy in Virginia. “We are focused on adding significant renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind, over the next 15 years while maintaining our commitment to excellent reliability and delivering an excellent value to our customers.”
Ken Schrad, spokesman for the SCC, said that two recent solar build cases took about six months from the date of application to receive a final order, and that a solar purchase power agreement case took about four months from the date of application to the final order. After a first review by the SCC commission, a scheduling order is issued after about 30 days that lays out the timeline for the case.
Tim Cywinski, spokesman for the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, said that implementing solar developments are generally positive, while stressing the need for oversight of Dominion.
“If implemented with an emphasis on accessibility, solar energy will benefit our health by reducing pollution, our wallets by reducing electric bills, our climate by replacing fossil fuels, and our economy by creating jobs,” he said. “With Dominion’s history of overcharging its captive customers, equitable state oversight by the SCC is paramount.”