Dominion, Amazon plan major expansion of their solar partnership in Virginia

Dominion (NYSE:D) is launching a major expansion of its solar alliance with Amazon Web Services Inc., an Amazon.com company, to add 180 MW of solar generating capacity in five Virginia counties.

Construction of the facilities will be enabled through long-term power purchase agreements between Dominion Energy and an affiliate of Amazon’s cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services (AWS). The solar power projects are expected to enter service in late 2017.

The developments announced Nov. 17 are expected to expand Dominion’s operating eight-state solar fleet to 1,400 MW by 2017, including 434 MW in North Carolina and Virginia.

Dominion expects the projects to qualify for the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

Dominion intends to bring online at least 500 MW of solar generating capacity in the two-state area by 2020, the company said in a news release.

Dominion is acquiring four 20-MW projects from Virginia Solar LLC, and will develop these facilities in Buckingham, New Kent, Powhatan and Sussex Counties for AWS. An engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract has been signed with Strata Solar for the projects.

Amazon Solar Farm US East 2, Amazon Solar Farm US East 3, Amazon Solar Farm US East 4 and Amazon Solar Farm US East 5 are the four individual facilities, each with a capacity of 20 MW, located in New Kent, Buckingham, Sussex, and Powhatan counties, respectively.

The company is also acquiring a 100-MW development from Community Energy Solar and will develop it in Southampton County. Signal Energy will serve as the EPC contractor. Dominion will own and operate all five facilities as part of the Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East portfolio.

In late October, an 80-MW solar facility in Accomack County – also included in the Dominion-Amazon alliance – entered service. It is the largest operating solar farm in the mid-Atlantic region and was developed by Community Energy Solar.

The 260 MW of solar capacity constituting the alliance between the two companies would produce enough electricity to power 65,000 typical homes and businesses.

AWS has publicly shared its long-term goal to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure, and will exceed its goal of 40 percent renewable energy usage by the end of 2016. AWS also set a new goal to be powered by 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017. These projects will increase renewable energy on the electrical grid that supplies both current and future AWS data centers.

To date, AWS has enabled 10 renewable energy projects in the United States that will deliver a grand total of 2.6 million MWh of energy annually onto the electric grid powering AWS data centers located in the AWS US East (Ohio) and AWS US East (N. Virginia) Regions. The projects that are currently producing energy include the 150-MW Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge in Indiana and the 80-MW Amazon Solar Farm US East in Virginia. The 208-MW Amazon Wind Farm US East in North Carolina is on track to begin generating electricity by the end of 2016. In addition to Amazon Solar Farms US East 2-6, other projects that will be in production prior to the end of 2017 include the 100-MW Amazon Wind Farm US Central and the 189-MW Amazon Wind Farm US Central 2 in Ohio.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.