Big batch of solar energy projects approved in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Dominion Energy has received regulatory approval in Virginia for a series of solar projects expected to generate enough power to light up 250,000 homes.

Dominion estimates the projects will also generate more than $880 million in economic benefits across Virginia and support nearly 4,200 jobs.

The State Corporation Commission approved the plan Tuesday. Dominion said the projects will result in a monthly rate increase of about $1.13 for the average residential customer.

Collectively, the projects will generate nearly 1,000 megawatts of electricity — that’s more than the average coal plant in the company’s portfolio. For comparison sake, Dominion’s nuclear-powered North Anna station generates about 1,800 megawatts.

The expansion includes 15 Dominion Energy Virginia projects, supplemented by power purchase agreements from third parties. Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby said Dominion’s own projects account for about 75% of the generating power.

The largest individual projects include the 150-megawatt Walnut Solar project in King and Queen County and the 100-megawatt Dulles Solar project in Loudoun County.

Ruby said the projects approved by the SCC are the second annual batch of projects contemplated under the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act, and that projects of a similar scale will be submitted by Dominion each year over the next 15 years.

The law calls for 16,100 megawatts in solar or wind energy projects to be in place or under way by 2035.