Dominion Targets 24GW of Renewables and Storage in Move Toward Virginia’s Clean Energy Goals
Utility Dominion Energy is planning a major shift toward renewable energy and batteries as it looks to comply with Virginia's ambitious new clean energy law.
Dominion Virginia’s new integrated resource plan (IRP), announced Friday, represents a potentially historic shift for the state’s largest utility, which has seen previous plans rejected by Virginia regulators for their over-reliance on fossil fuel power plants and infrastructure to be paid for by ratepayers.
The new plan, by contrast, sets out a goal of nearly 16 gigawatts of solar, more than 5 gigawatts of offshore wind, and 2.7 gigawatts of energy storage over the next 15 years. That’s nearly quadruple the targets laid out in Dominion’s 2019 IRP, and a major shift from a 2018 IRP that was rejected by Virginia’s regulator, the State Corporation Commission (SCC).
Dominion's plan would see it starting with a near-term solicitation for up to 1 gigawatt of onshore wind and solar and 250 megawatts of energy storage for delivery over the next three years, itself a significant development in a market that has not been overly friendly to renewables companies.
Dominion's before and (proposed) after. (Credit: Dominion Energy)
Dominion’s new IRP is driven by Virginia's Clean Economy Act passed earlier this year, which calls for 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045 and sets targets for energy efficiency, energy storage, and in-state solar and wind power. Under the law, Dominion Virginia and the smaller Appalachian Power Co. must supply 30 percent of their power from renewables by 2030, and Dominion must close all carbon-emitting power plants by 2045.
Dominion’s Virginia generation portfolio today is roughly one-third natural gas, one-third nuclear and one-quarter coal, with just over 5 percent ascribed to renewable energy, much of it hydropower and biomass. While its new IRP intends to keep its four nuclear power plants running, that still leaves a massive gap to be filled by renewable energy, as well as energy storage to integrate those intermittent resources into its power grid.
Major boosts for solar, offshore wind and energy storage
The first step toward meeting these goals will come through its renewable energy and energy storage request for proposals. Dominion is seeking up to 1 gigawatt of onshore wind and solar power, either through bids for new projects to be acquired through asset purchase agreements or power-purchase agreements.
This would significantly boost opportunities for solar and wind power in a state that ranks 18th in installed solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and has no wind farms within its borders. Developer sPower last month secured tax equity financing for a 620-megawatt solar farm in Virginia and has plans for doubling that capacity in the state.
Dominion’s new IRP ups its already massive offshore wind...