Dominion Plans 500-MW Gas Plant, Also Adding Solar and Wind

Dominion Energy announced plans for a new 500-MW natural gas-fired power plant and also has taken over a solar farm project in Pittsylvania County in Virginia, with the company saying it would invest about $330 million in the two projects.

The Nov. 1 announcement came one day after Dominion said it would it would add a 150-MW solar plant to its generation portfolio. The Fort Powhatan Solar facility would be the largest for Dominion in Virginia and is expected to be operational in 2021.

Dominion CEO, Chairman and President Tom Farrell in a call with investors on Friday also said the company would move forward alone with larger development of an offshore wind project, expanding a 12-MW pilot facility to as much as 2,600 MW, at an estimated cost of about $8 billion. The first phase of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project is expected to be completed in mid-2020.

The CVOW installation, about 27 miles off Virginia Beach, earlier this year was the first offshore wind project permitted by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Power Plant at Industrial Park

Rayhan Daudani, a Dominion Energy spokesman, said the two-turbine, gas-fired power plant at Berry Hill that would serve the Dan River region is expected to come online by April 2022. The plant, with a construction cost estimated at more than $200 million, would be the first business at the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill. The site was selected by Dominion due to its proximity to the Williams’ Transco pipeline. Daudani said an incentive package is still being negotiated between Dominion and Pittsylvania County.

The plant is designed as a peaker plant, meaning it will only run during periods of peak demand for power, according to Daudani.

Dominion’s plan was announced almost two years after Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co., canceled a similar gas-fired power plant project at Berry Hill. At the time, Southern Power’s Elizabeth Wash, the company’s state and local affairs manager, said in a letter that “After several years of hard work, the current market conditions in PJM have limited our ability to execute long-term customer opportunities that align with our business model.” PJM Interconnection is the regional transmission organization for Virginia.

The Southern Virginia Megasite is jointly owned by the city of Danville and Pittsylvania County. It is the largest industrial park in Virginia at 3,528 acres.

The Maplewood Solar project near Chatham, designed as a 120-MW facility, was purchased by Dominion from Austin, Texas-based Open Road Renewables at a cost of about $130 million. Open Road Renewables had obtained the initial permits for the project; Dominion will move to obtain final permitting from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Maplewood Solar is the largest solar project in Pittsylvania County at 1,517 acres. The Pittsylvania County Board of Zoning Appeals approved the project in February.

Dominion has a goal of having at least 3 GW of new solar and wind power in operation or under development in Virginia by 2022. The projects announced last week will bring the company to about 45% of that commitment. Additionally, Dominion in September said it plans to build 2,600 MW of offshore wind projects in three phases in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Farrell in his call with investors on Friday said the CVOW “project will be developed and owned by Dominion Energy Virginia, with regulated cost recovery subject to approval by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.”

Dominion has been working with Denmark’s Ørsted on the CVOW project, but company executives did not mention Ørsted during Friday’s call. Hayes Framme, Ørsted’s government relations and communications manager for the Southeast, told the Virginia Mercury online news service that the company is still moving ahead “full bore” on the CVOW pilot project, but said larger plans for the installation, which call for 220 turbines producing 2,600 megawatts of energy, were “Dominion’s project.”

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).

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