As of the beginning of this month, lots of news outlets have been reporting on a new deal between big Virginia utility company Dominion Energy and a name that’s not as familiar to local residents – Hecate Energy LLC. The news involves Dominion’s acquisition of more solar production in Clarke County, to the tune of 10 megawatts. Hecate Energy is a Chicago-based company.
A Zacks Equity Research report shows how Dominion’s total solar holdings have gone to over 400 megawatts in the state of Virginia, and how the company wants to add 500 megawatts in solar eventually. Zacks reports Dominion has invested $2.6 billion to develop solar projects in just the last four years.
The new Clarke County acquisition is built on 117 acres in White Post, Virginia. According to reports, it is now up and running. There are also announcements that Dominion is seeking another 20 megawatt project in Northampton County, also done in partnership with Hecate Energy, to be launched later this year.
“Dominion Energy is pleased to aid in the expansion of solar power in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Thomas F. Farrell II, CEO of Dominion Energy, said in a press statement in June. “We see great promise in clean solar energy, and believe it will be an ever-increasing portion of our company’s fuel mix over the decades to come.”
Clearly, Dominion is active in acquiring solar resources in multiple areas of the state. After detailing some of these plans, the Zacks report goes into the big picture, questioning whether federal support for coal could hurt renewable energy. However, right now, it’s clear that Dominion is one of many big companies looking to hedge into solar, anticipating the eventual decline of the fossil fuel industries.
Reports like these show how important solar acquisition is for mega-companies and big regional utilities — but what about small businesses and homeowners?
Solar power can really make a difference there, too. With net metering opportunities in place, local residents can harvest energy from the sun and get credits on their electric bill. That makes this a great time to get into the solar game on a smaller scale at the same time that some of the biggest companies are recognizing the benefits of getting into renewables.
Sun Day Solar helps small businesses and residential customers to set up active solar projects in and around Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia. Let us help you to plan out a solar project and figure out how to do it in the most practical and affordable way. We’ll look at your plot of land and help brainstorm how solar installation will work, and we also know some of the details around applying for relevant USDA grants and some other opportunities. Get on the path to solar energy with a trusted local partner, and enjoy a more sustainable energy solution for the long term.
Many Virginia residents are moving towards solar. They’re realizing how solar panels and gear have come to cost effectiveness, and how the big sea change toward solar and renewables helps both individual households and companies to become more energy-independent. That means there’s a lot of interest in solar – but who’s around to help?
In Rockbridge County and some other surrounding Central Virginia counties, a solar co-op is helping individual property owners and entrepreneurs to implement solar strategies.
Since 2015, co-op leaders have been meeting to talk about how to make solar adoption more practical for members. Reports in places like the News Gazette showed early efforts to band together to get solar discounts in cities like Lexington, and around the rural areas of the Shenandoah Valley.
As founders point out, being involved in the co-op can also make members feel more confident about going solar, because they have the power of a passionate community behind them.
These days, with the governor’s office proudly promoting solar solutions, and big commercial solar farms opening up around the state, there is even more of a drive toward both large and small solar projects. Projects like the massive Louisa County solar farm now in planning, and existing “solar campuses” serving big retailer Amazon, are inspiring others to go ahead and start getting onto the solar bandwagon.
With that in mind, the Rockbridge area co-op is still very active. Co-op leaders held a meeting in Harrisonburg’s Massanutten Library July 12 to talk about what’s next for customers.
In comments July 13, VA Sun program director Aaron Sutch confirmed that the group now has about 100 members, with 40 or so individuals moving forward to complete solar projects. Under the group’s aegis, he said, 20 solar installations have been done. Most of it is residential, and properties are evaluated for good roof access, and large, unshaded roof areas.
If you live outside the coverage area for the Rockbridge solar co-op, that doesn’t mean you have to move forward in solar designs without a partner. Sun Day Solar has been helping Charlottesville and Albemarle County residents to be confident about their solar plans, and to get these kinds of renewable energy projects done as quickly and affordably as possible. We help take a lot of the guesswork out of your plans to benefit from the natural energy of the sun. We’re used to helping our clients along with information built on experience helping with rooftop solar and other innovative projects. Ask us about how your property can benefit from solar designs.
Solar power is taking off in a big way in Albemarle County, but it’s also growing rapidly in other parts of the state of Virginia.
Organizations like the Solar Foundation have ranked Virginia among top contenders in year-over-year solar growth.
A lot of this progress isn’t just happening by accident — Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other Virginia officials are trying hard to make solar happen, in order to promote growth in the state economy.
In a March 28 press release from this year, the governor’s office announced Virginia’s place in the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2016, which puts Virginia in second place within the region. In addition to its placement in the Southeast, Virginia is also tied with the state of Utah for ninth place in the national solar index.
Officials estimate there are currently over 3000 Virginia jobs in solar — a 65% increase in just two years.
Looking at the location of new solar infrastructure and growth, studies found that some of the biggest urban regions in Virginia are top spots for solar expansion. Fairfax County ranks number one, and the Tidewater area of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News also saw massive solar growth in the past year, along with the state Capitol in Richmond.
“It is clear that Virginia is moving in the right direction,” McAuliffe said in the March press release, “but there is still work to do. I will continue to work with our public and private sector stakeholders to implement policies that will continue to bolster not only our solar industry, but the entire clean energy sector in the Commonwealth.”
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore added comments about the need for public-private partnerships and renewable energy options for business.
“It is essential that consumers and businesses have access to affordable, reliable and diverse energy resources,” Haymore said. “This is part of the Governor’s all-of-the-above energy approach and key to fulfilling the energy policy of the Commonwealth.”
All of this is great news for Virginia residents who want to move forward in adopting renewable energy policies and implement solar projects in their communities. With our planet’s future somewhat uncertain, and fossil fuel energy emissions having different impacts on communities, more Americans are getting serious about changing over to solar and other alternative renewable forms of power supply. It’s exciting, because solar is becoming affordable and much more feasible, not only for businesses but for individual households.
At Sun Day Solar, we excel in offering small-to-midsize solar installations for both commercial and residential clients. We’re passionate about getting people into the driver’s seat to benefit from net metering and all kinds of renewable energy benefits. Ask us about the right way to pursue your solar energy project in Albemarle County.
Is rooftop solar really everything that it should be?
Not according to some advocates of solar energy solutions in local communities. Many are pointing out that big utility providers like Dominion have seemed less than enthused about adding net metering and other services for those who institute their own smaller rooftop projects to complement the big solar farms promoted by Governer McAuliffe and often maintained by big companies like Amazon.
Some are scratching their heads wondering why, in an age where solar is truly reaching cost-effectiveness, and so many people are on board with getting their power from the sun, the jump in small rooftop solar doesn’t seem to match demand.
In a recent online piece detailing some of the issues with solar progress, Dr. Irene Leach, a Virginia Tech professor, suggests utilities may have gotten some assurances from state politicians that they don’t need to worry so much about supporting small solar projects.
Central to the issue is the practice of “net metering” where those with solar generation get credits from utilities for unused electricity. Experts are reporting on the process of sitting down with Dominion to continue to look at net metering policies. Although in 2014 Dominion made headline for trying to stymie net metering benefits, some close to the process are now reporting that the current net metering benefits could stay in place. There are particular debates around the practice of agricultural net metering and how farmers can use solar installations on their properties, as noted in Ivy Mains’ writing on current solar conditions in Virginia.
Individual business owners and others are getting proactive about trying to change policy: journalists and others are writing about Dominion’s participation in an effort by Mark Rubin of Virginia Commonwealth University to try to evoke a consensus, sometimes called “the Rubin group.” Business owners are trying to stick up for their ability to profit from ground-breaking investments in solar energy – at a rooftop level, not just a corporate level.
Need help brainstorming a solar project? Sun Day Solar can help. We have a proven track record helping a range of clients to get small-to-midsize solar projects done right. We can help with rooftop solar, agricultural solar projects, and other business and property investment designs. Get your solar ideas made into reality – talk to us about the best and most affordable ways to start capitalizing on free energy from the sun.
Out in Louisa County, where Dominion Power already runs a 250-acre solar farm, a bigger project is in the works — one that would develop up to 1000 acres of land to produce an estimated 80 megawatts of power.
Over the last year, the Central Virginian newspaper has been covering some of the developments around this ambitious solar plant to be put on land owned by Boyd Cash LLC and run by Harold Purcell.
The site would be in area between Waldrop Church Road and Harris Creek Road, near the Tanyard Golf Club.
On March 6 of this year, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors gave conditional approval to the project, after the plan ran through the county Planning Commission in February.
However, reporting shows that issues around visibility are creating a fairly costly condition for the developer.
Essentially, the board wants a 150-foot buffer of evergreens around the edge of the property, to hide the panels from the view of neighboring property owners. At least one of these property owners spoke in a public hearing on the project to recommend the tree buffer.
The new Louisa solar farm idea, which is running its way through the approval process, is just one example of what today’s companies are doing to promote access to renewable energy – but it’s a big one. This project would dwarf most of the others that have been set up on the East Coast, where one or two megawatts is a fairly common size.
This big solar farm plan also illustrates some of the issues that can arise in the course of planning a solar installation of any significant size, even one in a relatively rural area. Responsibilities such as setbacks can decrease the return on investment for a project, and limit what planners are able to do. One issue, as mentioned in discussion in Louisa County, is that trees placed in a buffer line can cast shade on some of the panels and diminish their ability to collect an optimal amount of power.
Sun Day Solar is happy to help small business leaders and property owners to brainstorm how to work with setbacks and other conditions. We have years of experience in setting up all sorts of solar projects, and a long list of satisfied customers. We can advise on applications for REAP grants and other opportunities to pursue projects in an affordable way. Get good professional backing for your renewable energy projects, to feel confident about moving forward and modernizing your business or property with sustainable energy infrastructure.