Dominion pursues 1,000 MW of utility and non-utility solar in two states

Virginia Electric and Power is aggressively expanding its solar presence, with 600 MW of non-utility solar in the works in North Carolina alone.

Virginia Electric and Power, a unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D), filed its latest integrated resource plan on April 29 at the Virginia State Corporation Commission and North Carolina Utilities Commission.

It noted in the IRP that it currently owns and operates 590 MW of renewable resources, including approximately 236 MW of biomass generating facilities. The largely-coal-fired Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (VCHEC) (610 MW) is expected to consume renewable biomass fuel of up to 5.5% (34 MW) in 2016 and gradually increase that level to 10% (61 MW) by 2021. The company also owns and operates four hydro facilities: Gaston Hydro Station (220 MW), Roanoke Rapids Hydro Station (95 MW), Cushaw Hydro Station (2 MW), and North Anna Hydro Station (1 MW).

The company is currently working with a number of potential solar qualifying facilities. In the IRP, the Short-Term Action Plan and all of the Clean Power Plan-Compliant Alternative Plans include a total of 600 MW (nameplate) of North Carolina solar non-utility generators (NUGs) by 2017, which includes 308 MW of power purchase agreements (PPAs) that had been signed as of May 2015. The company said it is continually evaluating NUG opportunities as they arise to determine if they are beneficial to customers.

Three utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities (Scott, Whitehouse and Woodland) totaling 56 MW are planned to be built in Powhatan County, Louisa County and Wight County in Virginia, for which the company filed for Virginia SCC approval in October 2015. The facilities will be comprised of ground-mounted, tracking solar panel arrays that are expected to have an operating life of 35 years. The three facilities are expected to provide approximately 127 GWh of energy production at an average capacity factor of approximately 25% in the first full year of operation. These projects present a unique opportunity to take advantage of a favorable market for solar generation construction and operation, with the ability to bring the more advanced current solar technology online for the benefit of customers through the efficiencies of a utility-scale facility.

The company is actively pursuing development of 400 MW (including Scott, Whitehouse and Woodland facilities) of Virginia utility-scale solar projects in various locations throughout the company’s service territory. These projects are being phased in from 2016 to 2020.

The company has been involved with the Solar Partnership Program (SPP), which deploys solar facilities at customer sites throughout Virginia. The company is now assessing the generation data from these facilities and plans to use this information to assess how to properly integrate large volumes of this technology into the existing grid.

The company, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, currently serves approximately 2.5 million electric customers located in approximately 30,000 square miles of Virginia and North Carolina. The company’s supply-side portfolio consists of 21,107 MW of generation capacity.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.