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October 30, 2017 · OPINION

Dominion Energy expands commitment to solar power

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Dominion’s Paul Koonce and Microsoft’s Jim Collins (right) watch Gov. Terry McAuliffe bolt the final panel into place at the Remington Solar facility on Thursday, Oct. 26.
By Paul Koonce
Dominion Energy

Dominion Energy customers want cleaner, greener forms of energy and they want it to be affordable and reliable, too. In particular, “more solar” is something we hear quite often in focus groups, surveys and everyday interactions with customers.

Dominion Energy is definitely answering this call for more emissions-free solar in Virginia. And we’re finding unique ways to make solar work for all customers, both big and small.

The new Remington Solar generation facility in Fauquier County is a great example. Last week, Gov. Terry McAuliffe set the last solar panel in place at the 125-acre facility – dedicating the largest solar generation facility of its kind in the region.

Now energized, it will deliver enough energy onto the grid to power 5,000 Virginia homes when the sun is shining. And it won’t cost ratepayers a penny because of a public-private partnership forged with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Microsoft to meet their needs for renewable energy.

Remington Solar is just one of the creative ways we are working to help our customers meet their renewable energy goals. Over the last two years, Dominion Energy has invested nearly $1 billion to add large-scale “universal” solar generation, which is delivered onto the grid for use by all electric customers. Just two years ago, we had four solar projects in Virginia generating 1 megawatt of power. We now have 27 solar projects built or under development (444 megawatts), with much more coming down the pike to serve a new Facebook data center coming to Richmond.

By 2042, we plan to have enough solar to serve 1.3 million homes at peak power. The shift is being driven by lower costs, better technologies and our commitment to deliver the cleaner power sources that our customers want.

As far as costs go, construction costs per megawatt-hour have decreased for universal solar facilities by 90 percent in the past five years. When coupled with a 24/7 energy source, such as nuclear or combined-cycle natural gas, solar is now a more reliable and cost-effective form of generation.

One of our goals is to make sure that clean, renewable energy is available to more Virginians.

So we are working on programs that will offer solar energy to any business or residential customer who wants it — through a variety of options tailored to meet their needs. Customers will be able to choose to have solar energy meet some or all of their energy needs, without having to pay large, up-front costs to purchase and install solar panels and related systems at their home or business.

Going solar can be a major financial commitment, but with these new options we are proposing, Dominion Energy will make clean, renewable energy a lot more accessible to more people. Our aim is to give our customers the cleaner, greener energy options they’ve been asking for, while lowering emissions and keeping costs down for all.

The writer is an executive vice president of Richmond-based Dominion Energy and president/CEO of its Power Generation Group.
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Jim Griffin · November 18, 2017 at 11:10 am
Observer's claim -- "solar panels in their lifespan make less energy than its needed to make them" -- is false, as the numbers reverse over time, producing net gains:

Repeating a study performed by a nuclear advocacy group? You dig deep to condemn free natural energy from the sun:

Your insult -- "uneducated people believe in them" -- is yet another uncivil comment. There is clearly a market for solar, a decision consumers make voluntarily after studying facts. It is an option many choose.

Tell us, observer, what's your motive for solar opposition? Are you mad Dominion converted the field into a solar array? Invested into nuclear or fossil fuels? Still hiding behind a pseudonym, sniping away, refusing to reveal your name in a community where we wave at one another as we pass -- it's sad, declaring those with different views "simple minds."
MrsMelson · November 5, 2017 at 9:08 am
While Mr. Koonce paints a rosy picture of his company’s responsiveness to customer solar demands, in reality Dominion is one of the strongest and most effective forces working to limit solar options for their Virginia customers. As Virginia’s single largest political donor, Dominion has successfully lobbied to impose an arbitrary 1% limit on customer-owned “rooftop” solar, blocked the ability of homeowners to lease solar panels, and imposed bogus “standby charges” and other red tape to make solar less economical for their customers. Dominion is the biggest campaign contributor to Virginia's General Assembly and I am disappointed to say, even candidates I support, have accepted contributions from Dominion. Dominion grabs land for it's pipeline and other projects through eminent domain or bullies landowners into accepting pennies on the dollar for their property.
BJ · November 5, 2017 at 4:54 am
Mike M. Thank you for the information on individual solar installation, we had no idea. Money "trumps" all, one step forward, two steps back. There is nothing to fear but fear itself, in many cases that "fear" is how shallow human beings are working for the common good.
Mike M · November 1, 2017 at 4:14 pm
First, I would like to thank Dominion Energy for providing a reliable source of electricity to our homes and for their diligence in getting power back on in adverse conditions. That said, however, the picture Mr. Koonce presents of Dominion's solar program is totally disingenuous. Dominion discourages individual installation of solar facilities by limiting the benefits of "net metering" in that if your solar installation produces a surplus at the end of a year, that surplus goes away. Furthermore, they restrict the aggregate net metering installations to no more than 1% (!) of their total peak load capacity. Face it: Dominion is out to make money, not to lower your rates or promote "green" energy. Don't be misled.
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