Dominion Energy Virginia to push for 10 MW of community solar

Calling all community solar developers – Dominion Energy Virginia wants you. Or at least they want your potential community solar projects, up to 10 MW.

That’s what the utility called for in the request-for-proposal (RFP) it issued yesterday, taking some of the first steps toward creating its Community Solar Pilot Program, which it was directed to do by Virginia Senate Bill (SB) 1393 into law in May.

In accordance with those instructions, it is asking developers to submit proposals for solar facilities up to 2 megawatts (direct current) in size, or up to 2 megawatt carve outs from larger facilities, located within and interconnected to Dominion Energy Virginia’s transmission and distribution footprint.

The Community Solar Pilot Program – which the company plans to file with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (VSCC) by early 2018 – is a voluntary program allowing customers the opportunity to purchase energy from new solar facilities located in communities throughout Dominion Energy Virginia’s service area.

For developers interested in putting forward bids, the key dates are as follows:

  • Intent to Bid Form and Confidentiality Agreement Deadline: Sept. 21, 2017
  • Proposal Submittal Date: Oct. 16, 2017
  • RFP Concluded: Q4 2017

Most industry observers say Virginia, which has long lagged behind other southeastern states in solar development, may be late to the party – but it is clearly trying to make up for lost time.

Shortly after Dominion Virginia Power’s 2017 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) indicated plans to procure power from at least 990 MW of utility-scale solar projects over the next five years, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed four bills into law that were expected to build a strong solar infrastructure in the state.

In addition to SB 1393, McAuliffe signed into law other laws.

  • SB 1258, which converted the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority to the Virginia Solar Energy and Battery Storage Development Authority, reflecting the growing importance of batter-storage technology in the future of the solar industry. It also expanded participation in the authority by four seats.
  • SB 1395, which increased the maximum size of renewable projects from 100 MW to 125 MW. It also exempted residential rooftop from having to apply for and receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the VSCC, which oversees utility regulation in the state.
  • HB 2390, which created a power-purchase agreement (PPA) pilot program, under the auspices of ApCo, to encourage private colleges and universities to add solar to their electricity portfolio.