Virginia SCC approves 20-MW solar facility in Fauquier County, Va.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), in a Feb. 1 order, granted Virginia Electric and Power (Dominion) approval and a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to build and operate the Remington Solar Facility in Fauquier County, Va.

As noted in the order, Dominion in May 2016 filed with the SCC an application for approval and a CPCN to build and operate a 20-MW (nominal alternating current (AC)) solar electric generating facility near the town of Remington in Fauquier County. The company proposed to build the solar facility on land that it owns across from its existing natural gas-fired Remington power station, the SCC said. The solar facility, which would include ground-mounted, fixed-tilt solar panel arrays, would interconnect using 34.5-kV distribution-level facilities, the SCC said.

The company would build and operate the project as part of a “public-private partnership,” the SCC said, noting that the electrical output of the solar facility would be dedicated solely to Virginia, a non-jurisdictional customer of the company, and Virginia has agreed to purchase that electrical output at a negotiated price for a term of 25 years.

Additionally, under a separate agreement, Microsoft Corporation has agreed to purchase all of the environmental attributes generated by the project, including renewable energy credits, at a negotiated price for a period of 25 years, the SCC said.

The company estimates that the cost of the proposed project is about $46m, excluding financing costs, or about $2,300/kW at the approximately 20-MW (nominal AC) rating. The SCC also noted that the company is not seeking to recover the project’s cost from its Virginia jurisdictional customers through either a rate adjustment clause (RAC) or base rates. The company further noted that there would be no impacts to its Virginia jurisdictional cost of service, base rates, fuel rates, or RACs as a result of the company’s ownership and operation of the project during the 25-year term of the noted agreements, the SCC said.

The SCC said that based on the record, it concludes that the solar facility will have no material adverse effect upon reliability of electric service, and is not contrary to the public interest; no party or staff has asserted otherwise.

The SCC further noted that the solar facility is required by the public convenience and necessity subject to Dominion effectively “ring-fencing” the costs of building and operating the project so that Virginia jurisdictional retail customers are held harmless from the impacts of the project. To “ensure that Virginia jurisdictional customers do not subsidize the project in any respect,” Dominion has proposed to isolate the costs of building and operating the solar facility and associated interconnection facilities, such that “[t]here will be no impacts to the Virginia jurisdiction cost of service, base rates, fuel rates, or RACs…,” the SCC said.

Since the solar facility is not proposed for – or purported by the company to be needed for – the provision of retail electric service to Virginia jurisdictional retail customers, the SCC said that it finds that the effective implementation of a ring-fence, to which the company has committed, is necessary. As a result, the SCC said that as a condition of the approval granted in the order, Dominion is to take all measures necessary to implement a ring-fence for the costs of building, owning, and operating the project.

The SCC also noted that it agrees with a hearing examiner in that the company should be required to comply with recommendations listed in a state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) report. The DEQ recommended, for instance, that the company coordinate with the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regarding the protection of wildlife resources. The SCC also that the company should be required to obtain all necessary environmental permits and approvals needed to build and operate the project.

The company is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE:D).

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3054 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.