Large Solar Projects Under Development in VA, KY & PA

by Duane Nichols on March 25, 2019

VA, KY, and PA Gaining Solar Power Projects, Big Time!

Ten economic development projects in Virginia receive $10 million from Abandoned Mine Lands program

From the Front Porch Blog, Appalachian Voices, March 21, 2019

Ten community revitalization projects that will reclaim old coal mining sites in Southwest Virginia will receive $10 million in grant money. Projects range from community revitalization initiatives like multi-use trains and water infrastructure improvements to commercial-scale solar. The grants are apportioned through congressional funding for the Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Program and will be administered by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

Russell County and the Dante Community Association will receive $269,000 for a project that includes development of multi-use trails to connect downtown Dante to other nearby communities and recreation areas, and the sealing of two open mine portals. In Wise County, the Mineral Gap Data Center and Sun Tribe Solar, a Virginia-based solar company, will receive $500,000 for a 3.46-megawatt solar installation to power the data center and for work to remediate old coal mine features near the site.

“We are elated to have been selected for this grant. Every dollar that we receive builds hope, which is necessary to keep a volunteer-driven community motivated and advancing,” said Carla Glass, Chair of the Dante Community Association. The development of the multi-use trails in Dante are intended to support the community’s vision of attracting sports enthusiasts and other tourists to the area and motivate local entrepreneurs to locate new, profitable ventures in Dante.

Developers for the Wise County solar project — the first of its kind in Virginia — estimate that the annual land lease as well as annual site operations and maintenance activities will infuse more than $1 million into the Wise County Industrial Development Authority and support local contractors over the solar project’s 35-year life span.

“We know that solar can succeed when projects are built in partnership with local stakeholders in both the public and private sectors, and this funding from Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy shows the strength of the partners we’ve found in the teams at the Wise County IDA and Mineral Gap Data Center,” said Taylor Brown, Chief Technical Officer of Sun Tribe Solar.

Marc Silverstein, spokesperson for Mineral Gap, said the company envisions this as “just the beginning” of solar energy development in Southwest Virginia. “Leveraging renewable solar power to create new jobs and long-term economic opportunity for the people and businesses of this region is the perfect way to build on Southwestern Virginia’s legacy of energy production, and to honor the men and women who are working to strengthen Appalachian communities by focusing on a sustainable, eco-friendly, prosperous future.”

Silverstein states that Mineral Gap hopes to be a good community steward by developing projects in the county that will create jobs and financial opportunities while helping the environment, “all in efforts to revitalize areas that have been negatively impacted by the economic realities of the coal industry.”

“We see this project as a single stepping stone toward transforming the state of Virginia into a green-energy-based economy,” says Silverstein. “Our hope is that this pilot project will be replicated across Southwest Virginia and grow into a huge economic benefit for the region and for the entire Commonwealth.”


Virginia approves largest solar power plant east of the Rockies

From an Article by John Weaver, PV Magazine, August 10, 2018

Virginia regulators have approved construction of the four part solar power plant, whose output is partially being sold to Microsoft. The 500 MW-AC facility is being developed by sPower.

As of last night the Pleinmont Solar facility, a 500 MW-AC plant under development by sPower in Spotsylvania County, has received approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission to move forward. The case documentation (20 page PDF) touches on the broader challenges surrounding the project: Mostly an investigation into potential environmental effects on water and solar module toxicity – issues that the solar industry addressed long ago – but also interconnection and long-term financial health.

The projects will sit on 6,000 acres of land owned by sPower, of which 3,500 will be used for construction. Much of the site is cleared forest and timber land. The site is traversed by several logging roads and two transmission lines, including an east-west 115 kilovolt (“kV”) line and a north-south 500 kV line, which bisect the site. The electricity will be sold into the PJM Interconnection market, with Microsoft holding a contract for 315 MW.

sPower plans to deploy a combination of First Solar and Jinko Solar modules, which will be mounted on the DuraTrack HZ v3 single axis tracking racking system developed by Array Technologies.

As part of a documentation package submitted by sPower was a “worst case pile-driving noise scenario”. The company did a noise per distance analysis, with a great color coding tool.

Also included in this package was a project decommissioning analysis. The company suggested the project has a 35-year lifetime, and a $31 million decommissioning cost.

The 500 MW power plant will be owned by four unique special purpose vehicles (SPEs), Pleinmont Solar 1 – 75 MW, Pleinmont Solar II – 240 MW, Highlander Solar Energy Station 1 – 165 MW, and Richmond Spider Solar – 20 MW. Each of these SPEs are a wholly owned subsidiary of sPower Development Company, who itself is a wholly owned subsidiary of FTP Power.

sPower’s white paper also delved deeply into how toxicity is dealt with at a solar power plant. Specifically, the state asked questions about the materials inside of the First Solar portion of the installation. sPower noted that the molecular structure of cadmium (CdTe) used onsite isn’t water soluble, and that even if the modules were ground up into fine dust (not what happens when a module cracks), worst-case scenarios are 3,000-7,000 times lower than Cd concentrations in commonly used fertilizers.

First Solar also has a dedicated recycling program for its modules, which ensures that such modules are highly unlikely to end up in the waste stream at the end of life. When a First Solar plant was hit by a tornado a few years back, the broken modules were collected and materials recycled – and the CdTe is now back in the field inside of new solar modules.

As the four plants are on one piece of land, this will be the largest solar project East of the Rocky Mountains when built at 500 MW, and one of the largest in the world.


Toyota Plans Major Solar Array In The Ohio Valley (Kentucky)

From an Article by Sydney Boles, Ohio Valley ReSource, March 13, 2019

Automaker Toyota is planning to announce a major investment in solar and other renewable energy in Appalachia and the Southeastern U.S. The plan includes a massive new solar facility on an old surface coal mine property in Kentucky.

Sources close to the deal tell the Ohio Valley Resource that the Kentucky site is part of a much larger plan. Toyota plans to purchase roughly 365 megawatts, of renewable energy, primarily from developers in Appalachia and the South.

“A project of this magnitude is certainly significant,” said Alex Hobson, director of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association, a leading industry research group. “You’re talking enough energy to power about 50,000 homes.”

Toyota has already undertaken ambitious energy efficiency goals, with a similarly sized solar array installed on its headquarters in Plano, Texas. But once completed, Toyota’s solar mega-project would place the automaker among the largest corporate investors in renewable energy.

The portion of the project scheduled to be built in Pike County, Kentucky, is a 15- to 20-year power purchase agreement. Partners in the development include: coal company RH Group; French renewable energy company EDF Renewables; and Adam Edelen, former state auditor and current candidate for governor in Kentucky’s democratic party primary.

At 100 megawatts, the site would be largest solar array in Kentucky and, according to one of the project’s developers, would likely be visible from space. The project is expected to cost $130 million, will be built on a 700-acre reclaimed surface mine site and could create between 50 and 100 renewable-energy jobs in a region still reeling from the loss of coal employment.

Toyota declined to confirm the scope of the project. A spokesperson issued a written statement hinting at an upcoming announcement. “We have been working with certain electric power providers on a very innovative initiative.”

Developers say the massive project is a smart business decision that happens to make a larger point: It’s proving that Kentucky’s economic future is in energy production, but perhaps that energy won’t be limited to coal and other fossil fuels.

“It doesn’t matter whether you care about the environment or not, this is pure economics,” said Ryan Johns, vice president of business development at RH Group. In a nod to Toyota’s slogan, Johns added, “If we don’t diversify our thinking, we’re never going to be able to keep moving forward.”


Philadelphia plans a massive solar plant in Adams County

From an Article by Susan Phillips, StateImpact Pennsylvania, November 1, 2018

Philadelphia’s plan to cut its carbon emissions now includes a proposal to purchase energy from a massive solar farm in south central Pennsylvania. The proposal is part of the city’s plan to use renewable energy for all city operations by 2030.

If approved, the solar farm in Adams County, near Gettysburg, would be the largest in Pennsylvania. Christine Knapp, director of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability, says the 70-megawatt facility would help the city reach its renewable energy goal. “We would like to do something like this inside the city as well, we just don’t have as much abundant and cheap land as there is in Adam’s County,” said Knapp.

Knapp says the city will buy all the energy from the facility under a 20-year-deal fixed at current rates. She says hopefully that will mean savings in the future when conventional energy costs are expected to rise. “The cost is about the same as what we currently buy, so that’s what’s making the economics work for us,” she said.

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill on Thursday that would allow the city to enter into a power purchase agreement with the Philadelphia Energy Authority, which will work with Adams Solar LLC, an entity of national solar developer Community Energy.

“Moving forward in a tangible matter with this goal symbolizes how we grow towards a greener and more sustainable Philadelphia,” Reynolds Brown said in a statement. City officials say job fairs for workers on the project would be held in both Philadelphia and Adams counties.

Last month, Philadelphia became one of 20 cities awarded about $2 million as part of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, which includes the development of renewable energy.


See also: The Modern Jobs Act Will Promote Solar Power in West Virginia

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

WV Modern Jobs Act (proposed) March 25, 2019 at 3:26 pm

The Modern Jobs Act (MoJo Act) of 2019 in the West Virginia Legislature was introduced by Evan Hansen (D – Monongalia Co.) with 10 co-sponsors on January 22, 2019. It was referred to the Committee on Technology and Infrastructure and then the Committee on Energy, where it was held by the Republican majority.

MODERN JOBS ACT (2019), HB – 2589 (Not Adopted)

A Bill to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §24-2-20, relating to siting certain solar energy projects on formerly mined land in West Virginia; authorizing transmission or wheeling agreements to transmit the electrical output from certain solar energy projects to large energy consumers within West Virginia; making legislative findings; defining terms; creating an exception to the general regulatory structure for solar energy project owners or operators and large energy consumers purchasing the output therefrom so that they are not deemed public utilities; authorizing affected electric utilities to recover reasonable charges for transmission, distribution, and other related services; and authorizing the promulgation of rules exempt from the regular legislative review process.


See also: The Modern Jobs Act Will Promote Solar Power in West Virginia


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