The solar industry is booming everywhere, with studies revealing that solar power is now cheaper than natural gas in some cases and that solar energy systems add an automatic premium to home prices. The state of Virginia is no exception. Virginia utility company Dominion Virginia Power is planning to construct several large-scale solar projects, reaching a total of 400 megawatts of new electric capacity by 2020. At their top capacity, these installations are expected to provide enough energy to power 100,000 Virginia homes.
The company plans to invest about $700 million in the new project and is currently in the process of selecting sites to build on throughout the state. Each site has to be carefully evaluated for environmental factors such as the slope of the terrain and the ease of connecting the site to the existing power grid.
"If we are going to build a new Virginia economy, we must be leaders in the energy economy of the future. Dominion has shown a strong commitment to solar energy development, and I am proud to work with them to expand renewable generation in Virginia and diversify the Commonwealth's fuel mix," said Governor Terry McAuliffe in a statement.
In addition to these projects, there is legislation coming down the pipeline at the 2015 Virginia General Assembly that would promote the growth of the utility-scale solar industry in the region. It's being sponsored by David E Yancey (R-Newport News), who commented positively on Dominion Virginia's announcement, saying it was a cost-effective and efficient way to expand the presence of the solar industry in Virginia.