Amazon’s AWS subsidiary partnered with Dominion Energy to vastly expand the amount of solar power in the Old Dominion of Virginia. Under a power-purchase agreement, 180 megawatts of solar farms, being built across five Virginia counties, will supply AWS’ energy needs in the state. The PPA enabled the projects which are expected to be in service by late 2017.
Dominion also is acquiring four, 20-megawatt solar projects in Buckingham, New Kent, Powhatan and Sussex Counties that were initiated by Virginia Solar. Strata Solar will design and engineer the projects. To round out Amazon’s Solar Farm East portfolio, Dominion has also procured a 100-megawatt solar farm under development in Southampton County being developed by Signal Energy.
"This alliance with Amazon Web Services will include the two largest solar farms in the mid-Atlantic," said Thomas Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion. "This solar expansion is great for Dominion, Amazon and the Commonwealth of Virginia. It helps AWS meet its renewable needs, it expands Virginia's clean electric generation fleet, and it creates economic development opportunities in largely rural communities."
Both Virginia and Amazon have been late to the green energy game. Amazon made a commitment to increase its sustainability through solar and other renewables in 2014 to 40 percent of its energy needs but little progress was made initially, while other tech companies were already moving forward with adding in solar power. Additionally, in 2015, a Greenpeace report, “Clicking Clean: A Guide to Building the Green Internet” criticized Amazon for its reliance on non-renewable energy sources like coal and nuclear to power its data centers. But now it is making strides toward its commitment to 50 percent renewable energy usage by 2017.
Similarly, Virginia has lagged behind other mid-Atlantic states in solar development and other renewable energy sources until recently. AWS’ transition to a sustainable energy is helping the substantial growth in its solar industry. AWS it began increasing its solar commitment in June 2015 when it announced that it had acquired permits signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to allow construction of an 80-megawatt solar farm in Accomack County, making it the largest solar project on the East Coast at the time.
"We continue to ramp our sustainability efforts in areas where availability of renewable energy sources are low or proposed projects are stalled, and where the energy contribution goes onto the same electric grid that powers AWS data centers," said Peter DeSantis, vice president, Infrastructure, AWS. "By enabling 10 utility-scale renewable projects in the US to date, we are well-positioned to meet our latest goal of 50 percent renewable energy powering the AWS global infrastructure by the end of 2017. That said, we are nowhere near done. We will continue to make progress toward 100 percent and have many exciting initiatives planned."Tweet