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Dominion buys O.C. solar project

Dominion buys O.C. solar project

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Dominion buys O.C. solar project

Pictured is Dominion Energy’s Scott Solar facility in Powhatan County. The utility purchased an approved, but undeveloped project in Orange County to add to its renewable energy portfolio.

Dominion Energy on Monday announced it had acquired a solar power project in Orange County as part of a bid to expand its clean energy portfolio. 

The 62.5-megawatt solar power facility is expected to go online in 2022.

The purchase is part of an agreement with Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman Corp., a large defense technology contractor, which will purchase the facility’s renewable energy from the grid to power its operations.

Richmond-based Dominion on Monday touted the purchase as part of its effort to build up its solar generating capacity to comply with the new law out of the General Assembly calling for 100% zero-carbon electricity by 2045.

“If we can help our customers—both large and small—add more renewables and provide cleaner electricity, that’s a win for our customers and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Robert M. Blue, Dominion’s executive vice president and co-chief operating officer.

The project was initiated more than three years ago by SolUnesco, which submitted the initial special use permit for the project for 660 acres on Route 20 in Locust Grove.

Initially, project developers planned to utilize 400 of those acres for solar energy production.

In 2017, Orange County approved a special-use permit (SUP) application for SolUnesco. Both the planning commission and the board of supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the project. The operation of solar farms—as a public utility facility—is permissible as a special-use in all county zoning districts.

In initial discussions, developers suggested the project is expected to generate $60 million in local spending during construction. During the SUP process, SolUnesco estimated the project would bring in $2.2 million to the county in machinery and tools tax revenue over the course of its life (assuming a 30-year lifespan). Furthermore, the proposed project would remove two parcels out of the county’s land use taxation program, bringing in an estimated $10,000 per year in property tax revenue, SolUnesco representatives said.

However, county officials were not without reservation on the project. There were 20 conditions added to the SUP prior to its approval, addressing issues from adequate buffering to performance bonds.

In 2018, SolUnesco sold the project to Cypress Creek Renewables, which sold the project to Dominion.

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