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Dominion Energy is committed to lowering greenhouse-gas emissions as a matter of principle. A major pillar of our strategy for doing so involves investing more in carbon-free, renewable sources of power such as solar and wind.
Since 2013, we have invested more than $3.5 billion in renewables and have increased our total solar generation portfolio, including our purchases from third-party generating capacity, from 41 megawatts to nearly 2,600 megawatts — enough power to supply about 650,000 homes. In 2018, we were ranked fourth in the country among utility holding companies for ownership of solar facilities, either operational or under development.
In 2018, our company brought online another six solar facilities, representing 136 megawatts of solar energy, and signed five agreements for more solar projects representing 415 megawatts in Virginia and North Carolina. Those projects will be completed in 2019. In March, Dominion Energy Virginia also received regulatory approval of new tariffs for renewable generation and renewable facilities, as well as a pilot program for community solar (for more on these, see the section on A Spectrum of Renewable Options for Customers).
In most cases, we own and operate the solar facility and other parties (such as utilities) contract with us to buy the power over an extended period. For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Navy have a power-purchase agreement with Dominion Energy for an 18-megawatt solar facility at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. Under a similar arrangement, the University of Virginia and its Darden School of Business have agreed to buy the entire electric output of our 17-megawatt solar facility in King William County, Virginia. In some cases, Dominion Energy agrees to buy solar power from third-party generators, such as solar-development companies, which is then distributed across our electric grid.
By the start of 2022, the company intends to have another 3,000 megawatts of solar and wind generation in operation or development; roughly one-fifth of that target has been met by projects recently placed into service.
In August 2018, we announced the launch of our Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project — only the second such project in the country, and the first owned by an electric utility. We have signed an agreement and strategic partnership with Ørsted Energy of Denmark, a global leader in offshore wind development, to build two 6-megawatt turbines approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.
The project is expected to begin generating emissions-free energy for customers by late 2020. If this launch is successful, it also could lay the groundwork for potential large-scale development of wind energy in a 176-square-mile area, which Dominion Energy has leased from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. That larger development could produce 2,600 or more megawatts of energy — enough to power half a million homes.
Dominion Energy operates three hydropower stations, which use the energy from river flow or the release of dammed water to spin turbines and generate electricity. The three stations — in Thelma, North Carolina; Louisa, Virginia; and Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina — serve 79,000 homes.
Nuclear Power and Gas
Our always-on nuclear fleet provides crucial carbon-free baseload generation. Our fast-start gas-fired generation facilities provide competitively priced energy in their own right, and backstop renewable energy supplies when it’s cloudy or the wind isn’t blowing. Both energy sources are essential to a diverse power supply that can shrug off changes in weather, market conditions, supply streams, and other variables to ensure a steady, reliable flow of electricity.
Dominion Energy operates the world’s largest rechargeable battery: a 3,003-megawatt pumped-storage power station in Bath County, Virginia. When electricity demand is low, the company pumps water from the lower of two reservoirs to the upper one. When demand spikes, valves open to let water run back to the lower reservoir at a rate of 13.5 million gallons per minute. The station powers 750,000 homes and provides reliable backup energy if other sources go offline.
We are exploring the potential for other energy storage systems, including another pumped-storage facility in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia, and battery energy storage system pilot projects to provide additional energy storage capacity to help balance future renewable resources.
We also already operate a significant source of market-area energy storage that supports quick-start power generation, meets weather-sensitive energy demand, and moderates energy price swings when supplies are constrained: the second-largest natural gas storage system in the nation. Dominion Energy’s robust, flexible gas storage system is described more fully below.
Moreover, through the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018, Virginia established a policy framework for battery energy storage pilot projects. The legislation provides the pathway for Dominion Energy Virginia to propose projects totaling up to 30 megawatts of storage to assess the ability of such systems to meet five different use cases. Dominion Energy Virginia began exploring concepts for GTSA-enabled battery storage pilot projects soon after the legislation was enacted. The company also participated in the proceeding initiated by the State Corporation Commission of Virginia to establish guidelines for the pilot programs. In November 2018, the Commission issued an Order Establishing Guidelines for these pilot programs, which was the final step needed to enable submission of pilot proposals for consideration and approval.
A Spectrum of Renewable Options for Customers
Dominion Energy is not the only one embracing change: Our customers increasingly want to be able to customize what kind of energy they use and how they get it. To meet this desire, Dominion Energy Virginia has developed a variety of service and payment options. They include:
This program — available to residential and commercial customers, universities, and local governments — allows participants to purchase renewable energy certificates in increments to offset up to 100 percent their energy use. A renewable energy certificate, or “REC,” provides proof that a given amount of electricity came from renewable sources. The program offers maximum flexibility with minimal commitment. In 2018, participation passed the 30,000-customer milestone. About half of participants offset their entire energy consumption with RECs.
Virginia Community Solar Pilot
Approved in 2018, the Community Solar program enables residential, commercial and industrial customers to purchase energy from participating new solar facilities located in communities throughout Dominion Energy Virginia’s service territory.
Schedule RG (Renewable Generation)
Similar to the Community Solar program, but for larger commercial customers, Schedule RG enables companies to have Dominion Energy Virginia develop a renewable-energy portfolio with a unique rate structure for all their locations. Through Schedule RG, Dominion Energy either builds renewable energy facilities for those customers or find facilities on the open market that support the customer’s unique sustainability goals. The program received regulatory approval in 2018.
Schedule RF (Renewable Facility)
Dominion Energy Virginia also offers a larger-scaled renewable program to large industrial customers, data centers, and others who want to procure RECs from a newly constructed renewable energy source. Through Schedule RF, an identified renewable energy source is dedicated and sized to meet the specific customer’s energy load. The program received regulatory approval in 2018.
Customers who install renewable energy generators (solar panels, wind turbines, etc.) on their own property can apply to interconnect their renewable system to Dominion Energy’s electric grid. Customers who consume more electricity than they generate pay only for their net usage — their total electricity consumption minus their own generation. Customers who generate more electricity than they use can receive credit for each kilowatt-hour delivered to the grid. From 2017 to 2018 alone, year-over-year participation in our net metering program grew 60 percent.
In 2018, the company assembled a team to examine our role in the electrification of the transportation sector. The team concluded that Dominion Energy should reach for an ambitious goal: 3 billion electric vehicle miles driven in Virginia by 2030. That single change would prevent 1 million tons of carbon emissions.
Dominion Energy can take a variety of steps to help consumers make the shift to electric vehicles. For example, we can make it easier to learn more about the benefits — both financial and environmental — and how to install home chargers. It is important for Dominion Energy to optimize the electric grid, to meet the increased demand when those chargers are likely to be in use. We also plan to offer options and incentives for electric-vehicle owners and commercial and industrial customers to charge during off-peak hours, and partner with municipalities and institutions such as colleges and universities to help them electrify their fleets and buses.
One of the best ways to motivate our customers to adopt electric vehicles is to lead by example. So we intend to have workplace vehicle charging stations at every one of our offices in Virginia and North Carolina by 2021. We are evaluating incentives for our employees to buy electric vehicles or get discounted chargers for their home. And by 2025, we aim to convert 25 percent of our light-duty fleet to electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.