Dominion buys 80 MW solar energy project on Virginia's Eastern Shore

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Dominion Energy bought an 80 MW solar power facility in Virginia from project developer Community Energy.

Construction on one of the largest announced solar power facilities in the mid-Atlantic region is expected to begin later in 2015. The facility would enter service in fall 2016.

Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East is located in Accomack County near Oak Hall, Va., on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The facility's construction was enabled through a long-term power purchase agreement with an affiliate of Amazon's cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services. Interconnection agreements have also been secured with Delmarva Power. An engineering, procurement and construction contract has been signed.

AWS has publicly shared its long-term goal to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure, with a milestone goal of achieving 40 percent renewable energy usage by the end of 2016. The power from Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East will enable AWS to increase renewable energy on the electrical grid that supplies both current and future AWS data centers.

This is the first project that has been approved under Virginia's permit-by-rule process for renewable energy projects with nameplate generating capacities of less than 100 MW. The statute streamlines the permitting process, allowing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to issue bulk permits to construct and operate qualifying renewable energy projects.

"We look forward to expanding our relationship with Amazon as it seeks to increase the mix of renewable energy on the electric grid powering its data centers," said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion. "This project also shows Dominion's commitment to building additional clean, renewable solar facilities in Virginia."

"This ground-breaking solar project in Virginia shows what can happen when you bring together a national energy leader like Dominion and a global web services provider like Amazon Web Services with forward-looking leaders in Accomack County and the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Brent Alderfer, president of Community Energy Inc., developer of the project. "This is a model for a new solar industry in the region and nationally."

The project is expected to qualify for the federal Investment Tax Credit.

Dominion has 425 MW of solar generating capacity in operation or expected to enter service in 2015 in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Utah. Included in this portfolio is the 20 MW Maricopa West project in Kern County, Calif., that Dominion recently acquired from E.On Solar. Construction is complete and the facility, which has a long-term power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric, is undergoing final testing before it becomes fully operational.

Dominion has agreed to sell a 33 percent partnership interest in that contracted solar portfolio to SunEdison Inc. In addition, Dominion is also a 50 percent partner in two Utah projects totaling 530 MW. That joint venture is also with SunEdison, and the projects are expected to come online in 2016.

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