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Dominion Energy has been lowering greenhouse-gas emissions for years. Through its commitment to net zero, the company is investing even more heavily in renewable sources of power, particularly solar and wind generation.
Since 2013, we have invested more than $4.5 billion in renewables and have increased our total solar generation portfolio from 41 megawatts to nearly 4,6002 megawatts — enough power to supply about 1.1 million homes at peak output. We rank third in the country among utility holding companies for ownership of solar facilities, either operational or under development.
We constructed and brought online 388 MW of solar projects in 2019 (242 MW of system projects, and 146 MW of merchant projects). For more details, see this report’s section on Building the Future Today.
In addition to its existing 747 megawatts of contracted solar, DESC has signed power-purchase agreements (PPAs) for an additional 330 megawatts by 2021. With the new capacity, approximately 25 percent of DESC peak generation would be solar.
Between them, Dominion Energy Virginia and Dominion Energy North Carolina brought 71 megawatts online through PPAs in 2019. Together, Dominion Energy Virginia and Dominion Energy North Carolina had 592 megawatts of solar PPAs as of Dec. 31, 2019.
Also, since 2011, we have completed 34 distribution voltage solar interconnections totaling 275 megawatts in Virginia and 93 distribution voltage solar interconnections in North Carolina, totaling 649 megawatts. In 2019, Dominion Energy Virginia completed nine distribution voltage solar interconnection requests totaling 40 megawatts. Dominion Energy North Carolina completed seven distribution voltage solar interconnection requests totaling 46 megawatts. These interconnections join solar energy sources to the grid at a local level, making them available to customers in the immediate vicinity.
In most cases, we own and operate the solar facility and third party offtakers contract with us to buy the power (and, in many cases, the associated environmental attributes) over an extended period. For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia has a power-purchase agreement with Dominion Energy Virginia 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, Va. UVa has agreed to purchase the entire electric output from our 15-megawatt facility in Middlesex County, Va. In some cases, Dominion Energy Virginia or Dominion Energy North Carolina agrees to buy solar power from third-party generators, such as solar-development companies, which is then distributed across our electric grid.
Dominion Energy’s BrightSuite® brand was established in 2019 to provide our customers with innovative products and services, including delivering customized solar solutions to businesses and governments that help them meet their sustainability goals. In 2019, we invested $8 million in customer-sited solar. (For more details on BrightSuite, see the Innovation section of this report.)
Our efforts have gained recognition elsewhere. For example, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has named Dominion Energy South Carolina a “SunRiser” for the past three years. The distinction recognizes companies for their high solar ambitions, as measured by increases in the average number of solar watts per customer. Among utilities with more than half a million customers, Dominion Energy ranked second on the basis of solar watts per customer in 2019, with an average of 807 — a marked increase from the 488 solar watts per customer in 2018.
Dominion Energy Virginia committed in 2018 to add another 3,000 megawatts of in-state solar or wind resources to its slate of projects either in operation or under development by 2022. As of August 1, 2020, we have exceeded that goal.
In July 2017, we announced the launch of our Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project. This is the first project to be installed in federal waters under the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management process, the first owned by an electric utility, and only the second offshore wind project in the country. We have signed an agreement and strategic partnership with Ørsted Energy of Denmark, a global leader in offshore wind development, to build two six-megawatt turbines approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Ørsted, the largest offshore wind developer in the world, is serving as the offshore engineering, procurement, and construction lead for the project. The L. E. Myers Company, with members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, performed the onshore construction work. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy was selected as preferred turbine supplier through a competitive process.
In September 2019, we proposed the largest offshore wind project in the Americas: a 2,640-megawatt development (enough to power 650,000 homes at peak output) also 27 miles off the Virginia coast. We chose Siemens Gamesa, a global leader in offshore wind technology, to provide the turbines for the development, which will be located in 112,800 acres that Dominion Energy leased from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in 2013.
Development of offshore wind in Virginia will produce a host of ancillary benefits to the state and to local economies. Siemens Gamesa is evaluating the possibility of investing in a $200-million blade factory in Hampton Roads; and supply-chain and service-related activity related to offshore wind could create additional employment opportunities. Dominion Energy is leading a consortium that will deliver a Jones Act-compliant installation vessel, further enabling the US offshore wind market. The economic benefits of developing wind power make our communities stronger — providing not only jobs but also additional tax revenue for education, transportation, public safety, and other services crucial to long-term societal sustainability.
In October 2019, we announced an agreement to provide the Commonwealth of Virginia with 75 megawatts of renewable energy from a wind farm in Botetourt County as part of a historically large renewable energy procurement by the state government.
Dominion Energy operates seven hydropower stations, which use the energy from river flow or the release of dammed water to spin turbines and generate electricity. The seven stations — in Thelma, N.C.; Louisa, Va.; Roanoke Rapids, N.C.; Carlisle, Columbia, and Jenkinsville, S.C.; and Augusta, Ga. — generate enough power to serve roughly 140,000 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 resources when they are not producing enough energy to meet customer needs. 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 energy storage facility: a 3,003-megawatt pumped-storage power station in Bath County, Va. 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 downward flow of water generates enough electricity to power 750,000 homes and provides reliable backup energy if other sources go offline. We also operate a second pumped-hydro facility in Jenkinsville, South Carolina, that has a capacity of 576 megawatts.
We are exploring the potential for another pumped-storage facility in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia, and have received approval from the State Corporation Commission of Virginia to move forward with four battery-storage pilot projects. These projects will pave the way for the additional energy storage technology needed to support the company's commitment to achieve net zero carbon and methane emissions by 2050, increase our renewable generation, and improve grid reliability. The four utility-scale battery storage pilot projects — made possible by the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018, and totaling 16 megawatts — are the largest projects of their kind in Virginia.
Dominion Energy recognizes the growing importance of energy efficiency in a world marked by increasingly stringent carbon regulation. Indeed, for many years we have offered our customers a variety of home and business efficiency incentives. For a list of such programs, see the Energy Value section of this report.
In keeping with our commitment to extend beyond our own net-zero commitment, we are expanding our efficiency efforts. In 2019, for example, Dominion Energy Virginia filed for regulatory approval of 14 energy-efficiency program approvals related to demand-side management.
2All values are at Dominion Energy percentages, and include projects under exclusivity/diligence, development, construction, and operation. Figures exclude projects that have power-purchase agreements with Virginia Electric Power Company or Dominion Energy South Carolina as offtake (that is, not owned by Dominion Energy).
A Spectrum of Renewable Energy 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 buy 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 2019, participation passed the 33,000-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 finds facilities on the open market that support the customer’s unique sustainability goals.
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.
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 2018 to 2019 alone, year-over-year participation in our net metering program grew 78 percent, and total capacity grew 131 percent. Under the Virginia Clean Economy Act, caps on the size of individual net metering installations and systemwide net metering capacity have been raised.