Virginia governor points to state’s growing solar footprint

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) formally announced the permit issuance for two new renewable energy projects on Jan. 4 that will together bring an additional 40 MW of solar power to the state.

The first, a 20-MW facility under development by Coronal Development Services, will sit on approximately 275 acres in Dunnsville, part of Essex County.

The second, also with 20 MW of capacity, will be constructed by Virginia Solar on a 720 acre parcel in Powhatan County.

The projects are a significant step in Virginia’s larger initiative to move towards mixed-use energy generation, McAuliffe said.

Although Dominion (NYSE:D) has commissioned one new coal-fired power plant in the past five years – the Virginia City Hybrid facility in Wise County – most of the growth is in natural gas-fueled generation. Dominion and other power companies in the state have been building new combined-cycle plants to replace aging coal plants.

McAuliffe has also been an active booster of renewable energy.

“These projects build on the important investments we are making in the solar industry across Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “This simultaneous announcement is a testament to just how fast the Commonwealth’s solar sector is growing.”

The permits were recently issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality through its “Permit by Rule” process. This streamlined regulatory framework supports the speedy deployment of renewable energy infrastructure while assessing the potential environmental impacts of new facilities.

“Today’s announcement clearly demonstrates the viability of Virginia’s solar sector and represents a big win for energy consumers and the environment alike,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward.

Since McAuliffe took office, Virginia has seen its solar energy footprint grow from 17 MW in 2014 to more than 188 MW at the end of 2016.

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.