University of Virginia teams with Dominion on 17-MW solar project

The University of Virginia and its Darden School of Business, in a deal announced Dec. 9, have entered into an innovative solar power partnership with the Dominion Virginia Power unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D).

The agreement positions UVA to achieve key sustainability targets, while further expanding Dominion’s renewable energy initiatives. Under the agreement, the university and Darden will purchase the entire output of a new, 160-acre solar facility in King William County for the next 25 years. The UVA Hollyfield Solar project – owned by Dominion, who will construct and operate it – is expected to produce an estimated 17 MW (ac), which represents about 12% of the university’s electric demand.

The Darden School, as a participant in the partnership, will assume responsibility for about 25% of the electricity production, which will enable the school to achieve its long-term zero-carbon goal.

“This is an exciting day for the University of Virginia and for the commonwealth,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Last year, I announced a state commitment to power our operations with more renewable energy, and today’s announcement helps to fulfill that commitment. With this project, the state is now a third of the way to meeting its 8 percent procurement goal in fewer than 12 months.”

Patrick Hogan, the university’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, cited the collaboration as an important new element in the university’s well-established and growing portfolio of sustainability initiatives. “Adding renewable, solar energy to the mix of options means the University of Virginia is making even bigger strides in our efforts to be efficient, green and sustainable,” Hogan said. “The University is pleased to be working with Dominion Virginia Power in this unique venture.”

Jim Eck, vice president of business development for Dominion Virginia Power, said: “This project with the University of Virginia represents the first large-scale solar facility dedicated to a Virginia university and is a continuation of our partnership on the solar front.”

UVA has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% below its 2009 levels by the year 2025. Darden’s sustainability vision includes becoming a carbon-neutral enterprise by 2020. Professor Michael Lenox, Darden’s senior associate dean and chief strategy officer, said the school over the past eight years has instituted multiple energy-efficiency initiatives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. “By supporting the solar energy project, Darden will reach carbon neutrality by 2020 and will be one of the only top-ranked business schools in the United States to realize this accomplishment,” Lenox said.

Dominion acquired the Hollyfield Solar Project as a development asset from Virginia Solar LLC, a Virginia-based company. The facility will feature approximately 65,000 solar panels. Construction is slated to start in late 2017, with commercial operations by the end of 2018.

Dominion now has announced 391 MW (ac) of large-scale solar facilities in Virginia under development or already in operation.

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.