Dominion Virginia Power is ready to take the next step in developing a solar power facility in Halifax County with the approval of a $5 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission.
"This grant is the kick-start to what would be the largest solar project in Virginia," said Mary C. Dowell, senior vice president-Alternative Energy Solutions for Dominion. "We know that it will take all forms of energy, including renewable forms such as this facility, to meet the growing demand for electricity from our customers."
The $35-million integrated solar and advanced energy storage facility is expected to begin operating in 2012, pending regulatory approvals. The company plans to ask the Virginia State Corporation Commission for approval in 2011.
PJM Interconnection, the independent regional transmission company that operates the electric grid in Virginia and 12 other states between Chicago and Washington, D.C., has reported that Dominion's service area is expected to have the strongest annual growth rate in electric demand of any of its regions at 2.5 percent. Dominion is exploring several resources to close a gap of about 5,600 megawatts between the available supply of electricity and customer demand in 2019.
Dominion Virginia Power and the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority applied in June to the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission for the $5 million grant. The commission approved the grant Thursday. The other project participants are the University of Virginia Center for Electrochemical Science and Engineering and an advanced energy storage manufacturer.
Dominion will issue a request for proposals for the engineering, procurement and construction of the 4-megawatt solar facility, which is anticipated to be located on up to 50 acres of land in Halifax County. This acreage would make it the largest solar project in Virginia. The company estimates that it will take about 100 construction jobs to build the solar facility.
"We want to go forward with this project to demonstrate a utility-scale solar and advanced energy storage project that can effectively manage, store, and optimize solar energy to regulate intermittency, enable peak shaving and increase grid reliability," said Doswell. "We also are looking to create jobs and promote rural economic development in the tobacco region of Virginia."