Facebook brings solar to two more US states

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Of all the U.S. states that have seen rapid solar development, few have been as abrupt as Virginia. The state had very little solar online prior to 2016, but over the next three years reached 731 MWdc, nearly all of which was in large-scale projects. Virginia is now expecting significantly more capacity with several mega-projects in the works.

Today that volume grew again, with Dominion Energy announcing that it is in the process of acquiring and in some cases building five solar projects totaling 330 MWac in Virginia and North Carolina to support Facebook’s operations. Two of these are already completed.

Gloucester Solar

  • 20 MWac
  • Gloucester, Virginia
  • single-axis tracker
  • online

Pecan Solar

  • 75 MWac
  • Northampton County, North Carolina
  • online

Grasshopper Solar

  • 80 MWac
  • Mecklenburg, Virginia
  • under construction

Chestnut Solar

  • 75 MWac
  • Halifax County, North Carolina
  • under construction

Gutenberg Solar

  • 80 MWac
  • Northampton County, North Carolina
  • under construction

In addition to these five, the company is dedicating its recently completed 20 MWac Montross Solar plant in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to supply Facebook as well. These five installations are in addition to the 142 MWac Colonial Trail West project and the 98 MWac Spring Grove 1 plants, which Dominion is building to supply renewable energy credits to Facebook.

But while Facebook is getting the RECs, Dominion is selling the power from these two to its customers, who will be charged through a “rate adjustment clause” spread over 35 years. Not so with the six projects announced this week, which will sell power to Facebook under a deal reached between the two companies in late 2017, which does not involve any impact for Dominion ratepayers.

Dominion acquired five of the six projects from EDF Renewables, BayWa and Strata Solar. The company expects Grasshopper, Chestnut and Gutenberg to come online through the middle of next year.

These are far from the first solar projects to be initiated by Facebook’s 100% renewable energy target. The social media giant secured 1.1 GW of renewable energy in the first half of 2018 alone, and like a Johnny Appleseed of solar is causing projects to sprout in Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and potentially other states.