Dominion buying up solar projects

A Virginia electric utility bought a solar project near Georgia Power’s nuclear plant Vogtle, and has been busily buying up four more, in Indiana and Connecticut. The Georgia electric customer is recent coal-to-solar convert Cobb EMC, not Georgia Power. This is the same Dominion Power that got Virginia to legalize its “standby charge” of a monthly fee for individuals to connect solar to its grid. Is Dominion trying to beat Edison Electric’s warning of the disruptive challenge of rooftop solar by building large solar plants? If so, it’s a start, with quite a few construction jobs. And all of this new solar power is expected to be online this year, a lot faster than nuclear….

Dominion says of its Azalea Solar Power Facility:

Location of Azalea Solar Power Facility Dominion announced on March 1, 2013, that it has acquired a solar energy development project in Georgia from Smart Energy Capital and Jacoby Development. The expected start of commercial operations is Dec. 1, 2013. (> View our news release for complete details.)

Dominion’s Azalea Solar Power Facility is planned to produce approximately 7.7 megawatts (AC) using photovoltaic technology. Dominion will select a contractor and oversee the construction of the project. The 40-acre project is located on 100 acres of farm and forest land about 60 miles southwest of Augusta, Ga.

The project has a 25-year power purchase agreement with Cobb Electric Membership Corp., one of the largest electric cooperatives in Georgia, serving roughly 200,000 customers.

As of July 2013, construction is well underway, and the photo below shows some initial solar panels that have been installed.

Dominion currently summarizes its Solar Projects:

We recently announced the addition of Dominion’s first major generation-scale solar project in Georgia, a 7.7 megawatt facility capable of powering more than 1,900 homes. We since have acquired three solar-power development projects near Indianapolis, Ind., known as Indy Solar I, Indy Solar II and Indy Solar III. The projects will generate a peak combined output of 28.6 megawatts of electricity.

That’s an interesting start. But Dominion is still naming solar installations with small numbers, like nuclear reactors. When electric utilities get on with installing so much rooftop solar they have to use large numbers and they stop bothering to make press releases for each one, we’ll know they’re serious. You know, like Austin Energy already started back in 2003.

The addition of these facilities is consistent with our philosophy to balance our generation portfolio with of all types of fuel sources: nuclear, clean coal, biomass, natural gas, hydro-power, wind and solar.

And there’s more. Yesterday Power Engineering reported Dominion acquires solar project in north-central Connecticut,

Dominion (NYSE: D) has acquired a solar project in Somers, Ct., capable of producing approximately 5 megawatts (AC) of electricity, from Kyocera (NYSE: KYO) in a deal that closed Tuesday for an undisclosed sum.

Kyocera and CleanPath, a San Francisco-based clean-energy company, had jointly developed the Somers project, which is expected to begin commercial operation within the 4th quarter of 2013.

The Somers Solar Center will use Kyocera Solar Inc.’s, photovoltaic technology to produce enough electricity to supply nearly 1,400 homes. The electricity will go to Connecticut Light & Power Co. under a 20-year purchased-power agreement.

Somers Solar Center is located on 90 leased acres in north-central Connecticut, roughly 4 miles south of the Massachusetts state line. Prime Solutions Inc., a Connecticut-based company, is the center’s engineering and construction contractor. The project provided about 80 jobs during the peak of construction, most of which came from locally-owned companies. Once in operation, the center will be serviced by a contractor.

So 7.7 + 28.6 + 5 is 41.3 megawatts of solar power Dominion has bought this year. All of which is expected to be online this year. Hm, solar seems to get installed a lot quicker than nuclear….