Dominion Virginia Power’s 2017 integrated resource plan (IRP) includes 8 potential scenarios that outline the development of between 5,200 megawatts and 5,760 megawatts of new solar generation in its Virginia and North Carolina service areas by 2042. That would be enough solar energy to power 1.3 million homes at maximum output.
"For the first time, the subsidized costs of utility-scale universal solar power are expected to be low enough to make it a component of future generation additions at reasonable cost to our customers," said Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion Generation Group. "We believe this balance of solar, natural gas and nuclear hits the sweet spot in terms of cost, environmental performance and reliability for our customers.”
Dominion’s latest plans, filed with regulators in Virginia and North Carolina, include the addition of at least 990 megawatts of solar capacity by 2022, 3,200 megawatts by 2032 and at least 5,200 megawatts by 2042. The utility’s plan builds on its 2015 commitment to develop 400 megawatts of utility-scale solar by 2020 and to invest nearly $1 billion into the construction of 12 large solar projects in its Virginia service area. The company also plans to revive development of the proposed 12-megawatt Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project near Virginia Beach as early as 2021.
The utility’s plan includes the potential decommissioning of coal-fired power plants. It could decommission two coal burning power plants in Chesterfield, VA, and an oil-fired plant in Yorkville, VA, by 2022. In other scenarios it could retire coal-fired plants in Clover, VA, and Mecklenburg, VA, in 2025.
The utility plans to modernize its transmission infrastructure to accommodate more renewable energy sources and increase grid security and reliability during outages. "Widespread solar use, both utility-scale universal solar and private systems, will require a modern energy grid, upgraded from the one-directional grid system that has worked so well to deliver power to generations of customers," said Robert M. Blue, president and CEO of Dominion Virginia Power.
"When the variable nature of solar becomes a major factor on the grid, it must become a flexible, two-way network, so we can deliver energy seamlessly to everyone. Having a robust energy grid is absolutely vital and will become even more important in the future."
Increasing the amount of solar and other renewables in its 2017 IRP could reduce each customer’s carbon footprint by up to 25 percent over the next 8 years, according to Dominion. Under the new plan, including reductions in carbon emissions the company has already made, a typical customer’s carbon footprint will have decreased by up to 46 percent from 2007 to 2027.
Dominion’s recent IRP considers national and state regulations that will limit greenhouse gas emissions through implementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which was established in 2015.
"Dominion will continue moving toward cleaner power sources with lower emissions, whether the Clean Power Plan lives or dies. Our customers want more renewable energy, and changing economics make the transition to renewable resources easier,” Koonce said. The Clean Power Plan is currently under review in federal court and President Donald Trump’s (R) administration is attempting to rescind it.Tweet