Dominion Resources (NYSE:D) said Jan. 20 that a regulated subsidiary has filed an application with the Virginia State Corporation Commission to build the first large-scale solar power project in its regulated Virginia territory.
Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power plans to construct the 20-MW solar energy project on about 125 acres that the company owns near the Remington power plant in Fauquier County.
Remington includes four gas turbines that were deployed in 2000, according to GenerationHub records.
The solar facility would contain approximately 90,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels and at peak capacity would generate enough electricity to provide power for 5,000 homes. The estimated in-service date for the facility is October 2016.
The announcement drew swift praise from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who days earlier had announced a state request for interest (RFI) for small-scale solar projects near commuter lots and other state-owned property. “I want to thank Dominion for their commitment to solar energy development with a project that nearly doubles Virginia’s production of solar energy,” McAuliffe said. “I look forward to working with them to continue to expand renewable generation in Virginia and diversify the Commonwealth’s fuel mix.”
Virginia lawmakers in Northern Virginia and Tidewater also praised the news.
Dominion has expertise in constructing and operating a large, diversified generation portfolio, which includes 344 MW of solar generating capacity in development, under construction or in operation across six states. Dominion is involved with solar projects in Connecticut, Georgia, Utah, Indiana, California and Tennessee.
Dominion’s solar development in its regulated Virginia territory is still in its early stages, however. Dominion has a pilot solar purchase program underway that is currently limited to 3 MW.
A key benefit of the Remington solar facility is that Dominion can leverage this experience to successfully integrate utility scale solar generation to serve Virginia’s energy needs.
In a separate application filed Jan. 20 with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Dominion is seeking approval of a Community Solar pilot in Virginia. This pilot program, initiated by policy recommendations from several Virginia legislators, will allow customers to voluntarily purchase solar energy output from a Virginia-based 2-MW Dominion solar facility.
In the Remington application, J. Scott Gaskill, the Manager of Generation System Planning for Dominion Virginia Power, wrote: “The Project is expected to provide customer energy benefits primarily during on-peak hours. As a result, the Project will assist in filling a portion of the Company’s projected energy gap. As a 20 MW resource, the Remington Solar Facility is expected to provide approximately 38.6 GWh of energy production at an average capacity factor of approximately 22% in its first year of operation. Because the Project will have no fuel costs or emissions, its energy production provides an effective means of fuel diversity during on-peak hours. Further, this zero-carbon generation resource will assist with meeting EPA limits for Virginia and will provide local economic benefits as opposed to importing power or other fuel sources such as coal, gas, or oil.”
He noted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s CO2-reducing Clean Power Plan, proposed last June, sets a final carbon intensity target by 2030 for the Commonwealth of Virginia, but also imposes a mandatory interim goal for the 10-year period beginning in 2020. “Because the mandatory interim goal is calculated by averaging the carbon intensity over the 10-year period, it is beneficial to take carbon-reducing actions early in the period rather than later. Therefore, it is imperative for the Company to begin proactively adding low-carbon and carbon-free generation resources to its Virginia portfolio to meet these impending EPA regulations. While the Project represents a first step in meeting these targets, much more will need to be done to meet these regulations in the proposed timeline.”