Corporate commitment to renewables brings more solar to Virginia

Utility-scale solar projects continue to grow across the Commonwealth, most recently thanks to a partnership between Amazon and Dominion Power. (© iStock)

Amazon’s data centers and Dominion Power just announced a partnership that will dramatically expand solar capacity in the Commonwealth. The deal will include construction of 180 megawatts of solar spread across five counties and scheduled to be online in late 2017.

“This is great news for expanding solar power in Virginia and we applaud Dominion and Amazon for moving us forward,” said SELC Attorney Will Cleveland. “This is a clear indication that no matter who is in Washington or what happens to the Clean Power Plan, clean energy makes economic sense for Virginia.”

Earlier this week, several major corporations called on Virginia regulators to clarify the framework for expanding their renewable generation so they can, like Amazon, gain the benefits of shifting to clean renewable energy. Currently, the legal framework is unclear in Virginia about how companies can work with third-parties to enter in power-purchase agreements, which are often key to facilitating large-scale solar installations.

It was just such a power-purchase agreement between Dominion and Amazon’s subsidiary AWS that facilitated this newest 180-megawatt solar project. But there is more interest in solar than Dominion can handle, both from business and residential customers. This sparked SELC’s involvement in recent solar proceedings before the Virginia State Corporation Commission looking for legal clarity on the issue, and the recent letter from corporations.

This recent announcement demonstrates that policy, rather than economics, is hampering clean energy growth in Virginia. Customers, both large and smal, need clear access to all types of solar providers, which will save them money in the long run while also helping the Commonwealth reduce its harmful emissions.

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