The Arc of Progress is Bending Toward Solar & Wind Energy in VA & WV

by Duane Nichols on April 28, 2022

Solar & wind energy are the answers to most of our problems!

 A historic turning point: solar beat coal in Virginia in 2021

From an Article by Ivy Main, Power For The People, April 26, 2022

It had to happen sometime, but even staunch supporters of Virginia’s transition to clean energy might not have expected this so soon in a former coal state. The precipitous decline of coal as a fuel source, and the rise of solar energy as the new “fuel” of choice, resulted in solar facilities producing more electricity than coal did in Virginia over the course of 2021.

Using Energy Information Agency data, the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia produced these two graphs, shown in the Article. Bill Shobe, the center’s director of economic research, says Virginia generated 3,365 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity with solar and 3,130 GWh with coal.

Only three coal-fired plants remain in Virginia: Chesterfield (slated for retirement), Clover, and Virginia City. All have capacity factors in the ‘teens, meaning they are idle most of the time. They now run only during the coldest months of winter and the hottest months of summer (producing the spikes you see in the month-by-month graph), and all are under economic pressure to close for good.

In addition, Dominion Energy owns the Mt. Storm coal plant just over the border in West Virginia that runs about 42 percent of the time. (This facility with a nameplate capacity of 1600 MW is located in Grant County WV dominating the skyline for miles around. Within view are the large wind turbines on the Allegheny Front range. This incredibly scenic area can be seen on US Route 48, a limited access highway that is intended to interconnect with Interstate 66 south of Winchester, VA.)

Related Article ~ Is offshore wind expensive? Not compared to the alternatives, April 6, 2022


Big solar project is approved if power companies can prove they have customers lined up

From an Article by Brad McElhinny, WV Metro News, April 22, 2022

West Virginia’s Public Service Commission has conditionally approved a $102 million solar energy proposal across five counties, but commissioners want assurances that energy customers are truly lined up to limit costs for regular ratepayers.

“The Commission notes that there are numerous factors that are putting significant upward pressure on West Virginia rates,” wrote members of the Public Service Commission. “In evaluating a rate increment for this project or any other earmarked project, the commission must take into consideration the totality of the rate increases that are imposed on West Virginia customers.”

The project was prompted and invited by a 2020 legislative initiative opening up West Virginia to more solar production to meet the needs of companies that want solar in their energy portfolios. (This legislation limits each power company to 50 MW of solar generation, compared to the existing coal fired Ft. Martin power plant at 1100 MW.)

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