Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic, an independent power producer (IPP) and provider of turnkey renewable energy solutions, and Dominion Energy, one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, are expanding Virginia’s solar energy capacity by developing a solar facility in Essex County that will add clean, reliable, and affordable solar energy to the local power grid, introduce high-quality jobs to the local economy, and provide tax revenue to the county and state. This 174-acre, 20MW solar development project in Dunnsville will generate enough electricity to power 5,000 single-family homes in Virginia annually.
As one of the largest solar projects in the state, the Essex Solar Center is evidence of both companies’ commitment to sustainably strengthen the solar industry in Virginia. It builds on Charlottesville-based Coronal Energy’s history of Virginia-sited projects and was made possible through the state’s recently implemented permit by rule (PBR) process through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). This important regulatory framework supports efficient renewable energy infrastructure initiatives while ensuring the project will not impact the county’s natural resources during its lifecycle.
The Essex Solar Center will also help Dominion Energy expand its renewable energy portfolio. The energy will be procured by Dominion Energy via a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) that enables the company to purchase the power generated by the solar facility for the benefit of its customers, while Coronal Energy continues to own and operate the facility upon completion.
“The Essex Solar Center is a meaningful project because of the local partnerships that are bringing it to life,” said Kyle West, Vice President of Real Estate, Coronal Energy™. “It epitomizes the results that solar development at its best can achieve – powering a local community with clean energy, new jobs and tax revenue by working with landowners to develop a commercially viable solar facility that interconnects with a renewables-focused utility.”
Katheryn Curtis, senior vice president of Dominion Energy’s Power Delivery Group, said, “At Dominion, we are dedicated to providing affordable renewable energy options to Virginia residents. Teaming up with Coronal Energy on the Essex Solar Center allows us to serve our customers through our PPA arrangement, bring jobs to the county that will benefit the local economy, and align with the state’s vision as Virginia prioritizes clean energy initiatives.”
Two parcels of land comprise the 174-acre solar facility: Approximately 70 acres are owned by the Southside Rappahannock Baptist Association, a nonprofit organization. The area is the former site of the Rappahannock Industrial Academy (RIA), a school that operated in the first half of the 20th century, dedicated to educating the children of former slaves. Revenue from the land lease will help support the history and legacy of the historic site. The remaining acreage is owned by a private landowner, Haile Properties, LLC. Both landowners’ participation in solar development encourages positive economic development in the county and augments Virginia’s broader renewable energy generation and carbon emissions reduction efforts.
“This solar project enables RIA to maintain the property and continue having a lasting impact on the people of Essex County by providing services and enhancing opportunities for all the children in the area,” said James Hill, President, RIA Task Force.
Danny Van Clief, Chief Commercial Officer, Coronal Energy™ added, “As a solar company working in Charlottesville, we’re particularly fond of opportunities that arise where we have a local presence. The Essex Solar Center enhances our sense of community and adds to our experience developing in-state solar projects, including the similarly sized 20 MW Woodland Solar Center in Isle of Wight County.”
McCarthy Building Companies has been engaged as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm responsible for building the solar facility, which is slated for completion in November 2017. This project will add an estimated 80 - 100 jobs in the county during the construction phase, a number that boosts the 2,300 solar jobs Dominion Energy has created in the state of Virginia and the more than 3,200 jobs the solar industry brings to the Virginia economy overall.
(Photo: A solar power plant developed by Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Source: Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic)