Category Archives: Energy

Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly – Bills Related to Natural Gas Pipelines

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about water-related bills in the 2018 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm (LIS description of provisions edited in some cases for space or clarity).  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Several bills introduced into the 2018 Virginia General Assembly dealt with water-related impacts or landowner rights related to natural gas pipelines.  (For much more detail on natural gas issues in Virginia, please see this News Grouper post.)

The following two bills were still alive as of the morning of February 23, 2018.

SB 698 and SB 699 – Natural gas pipelines: inspections of land-disturbing activities and stop work instructions.  Both bills passed the Senate (33-7 on 2/6/18) and were reported from the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources (22-0 on 2/21/18).   The bills, sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-25th), would authorize the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to conduct inspections of land-disturbing activities related to construction of any natural gas transmission pipeline greater than 36 inches in diameter to determine (i) compliance with annual standards and specifications, (ii) compliance with any site-specific plans, and (iii) if there have been or are likely to be adverse impacts to water quality as a result of such land-disturbing activities; and would authorize the DEQ to issue a stop-work instruction on the relevant part of the site when the department that there has been a substantial adverse impact to water quality or that a substantial and imminent adverse impact to water quality is likely to occur as a result of such land-disturbing activities.

The following five bills failed (bills below are listed in order by bill number, with House bills listed before Senate bills).

HB 1141 – Interstate natural gas pipeline; Virginia Water Protection Permit; regulations. This bill failed in the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Sam Rasoul (D-11th), would have directed the State Water Control Board (SWCB), to do the following in the case of interstate natural gas pipeline projects: require both a Virginia Water Protection Permit and an Individual Water Quality Certification under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act; review water body crossings, construction through karst terrain, and plans for control of erosion, sediment, and stormwater; prohibit any land-disturbing activity, including tree felling, prior to the issuance of a Water Quality Certification; and require horizontal directional drilling for certain crossings of large water bodies.

HB 1187Natural gas companies; right of entry upon property.  This bill failed in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst (D-12th), would have put additional conditions on the permission for natural gas companies to enter upon real property for the purpose of conducting surveys and other tests for its proposed line or the location of facilities.  The companion bill in the Senate was SB 324, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards (D-21st); that bill failed in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.

HB 1188 – Natural gas pipelines; contingency plan; operation; discharge; penalty.  This bill failed in the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Chris Hurst (D-12th), would have required the operator of any natural gas pipeline of a certain size, prior to operation, to commission an independent test of the quality of groundwater for each property in the right-of-way and to file a gas discharge contingency plan that is approved by the State Water Control Board; authorizes the Board to adopt regulations requiring testing and inspection of the pipeline and annual retesting of ground water at properties in the right-of-way and a demonstration of financial responsibility by the operator; prohibited the discharge of gas, establishing penalties for those discharging or causing or permitting a discharge or a substantial threat of such discharge, establishing legal liability and defenses, and requiring any person discharging gas immediately to report it to the Board and to local authorities.

HB 1294 – Interstate natural gas pipeline construction; water quality impact bond; statewide halt.  This bill failed in the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Sam Rasoul (D-11th), would have required any company that plans to construct an interstate natural gas pipeline in Virginia to post a performance bond with the State Water Control Board (SWCB) in an amount sufficient to ensure that the Board could address and remediate any adverse water quality impact that arises out of the construction; and provided that, if the SWCB determines that construction activity has caused or threatens to cause an adverse water quality impact, the SWCB shall undertake conservation action to address and remediate the identified water quality impact and issue an order to halt any construction on each interstate natural gas pipeline under construction in Virginia.

News Media Items Related to This Legislation

Pipeline bills pass Senate, Bath Recorder, 2/7/18.

General Assembly panel kills pipeline bills by Dels. Chris Hurst and Sam Rasoul, Roanoke Times, 2/6/18.

‘Democratic Caucus of SWVA’ introduce bills to support landowners during pipeline disputes, WDBJ TV-Roanoke, 1/11/18.

Southwest Va. lawmakers push legislative package aimed at reforming pipeline regulation, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/11/18.

Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly: Coal Ash Management Bills

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about water-related bills in the 2018 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm; the LIS summaries are edited in some cases for space or clarity.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Several bills were introduced in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly on management of ponds that contain coal-combustion residuals, also called coal ash, by power plants in the Commonwealth.  As of 2/22/18, one bill—SB 807—was still alive in this session.

SB 807 – Electric utilities; closure, request for proposals.  As of 2/22/18, this bill had passed the Senate (37-3 on 2/13/18) and was in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.  The bill, ponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would direct the director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to suspend, delay, or defer the issuance of any permit to provide for the closure of any coal combustion residuals (CCR, or coal ash) unit until July 1, 2019, other than for a permit required for impoundments where coal ash has already been removed and placed in another impoundment on site, is being removed from an impoundment, or is being processed in connection with a recycling or beneficial use project.  The measure also requires the owner or operator of any CCR surface impoundment that is located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to determine (i) the quantity of coal ash that may be suitable for recycling in each CCR surface impoundment located within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, (ii) the cost of recycling such coal ash, and (iii) the potential market demand for material recycled from such coal ash.  The owner or operator is required to report on the results of the RFP by December 1, 2018.

Following are descriptions and the status of five other coal ash-related bills that were introduced into the 2018 session.

HB 467 – Coal ash: recycling or reuse as preferred disposal method.  The bill failed in the House Commerce and Labor Committee on 2/13/18.  The bill, sponsored by Del. Lee Carter (D-50th), would have prohibited of coal ash except by recycling or beneficial reuse (with certain exceptions).

SB 765 – Coal ash ponds: mandatory testing of drinking water wells in Chesapeake Bay watershed.  This bill was carried over to 2019 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.  The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would require the owner or operator of any coal ash pond in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that is closed by capping in place to complete a survey of all drinking water wells within one mile of the pond; require the utility to commission an independent well water test on behalf of the owner of each such well and conduct such a test once per year during each of the five years following the approval of the closure of the coal ash pond, and once every five years thereafter; require the utility to proved alternative water supplies to the owner of any well where tests exceed groundwater quality standards for constituents associated with coal ash; and require the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to consider the results of the tests in its permitting, monitoring, or enforcement proceedings.

SB 767 – Coal ash ponds: delay of closure permit issuance for certain flaws in closure plans.  This bill was carried over to 2019 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.   The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would authorize the director of the DEQ to delay the issuance of a permit for the closure of a coal ash pond in the Chesapeake Bay watershed if the DEQ determines that the closure plan shows any insufficiency or flaw, including a failure to account for the possibility of leakage.

SB 768 – Electric utilities: limits on recovery of costs associated with closure in place of coal ash facilities.  This bill was carried over to 2019 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.   The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would direct that in State Corporation Commission (SCC) reviews of investor-owned electric utilities, any costs incurred by the utility that are associated with closure in place of a coal ash landfill or surface impoundment are to be considered “unreasonable and not prudent”; and would direct that, for purposes of any rate adjustment clause for recovery of environmental costs, costs associated with closure in place of such a landfill or impoundment are not necessary to comply with any environmental law or regulation.

SB 808 – Electric utilities; Transitional Rate Period, coal combustion residuals landfills.  This bill was carried over to 2019 in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.   The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36th), would change the duration of the Commonwealth’s current Transitional Rate Period (Period) for any Phase II Electric Utility, and provide that during the first biennial review after the Period, the State Corporation Commission shall determine whether the utility would have owed customers a refund during any test period in the Transitional Rate Period, and, if so, the utility may elect to expense up to 80 percent of costs associated with closure by removal of coal combustion residuals landfill or surface impoundments against its overearnings.  The measure would require the owner or operator of any coal combustion residuals unit to submit reports on the costs associated with removal of coal combustion residuals landfill or surface impounds.

News Media Items Related to This Legislation

House panel next to consider Senate coal ash legislation, Virginia Business, 2/20/18.

Bill delays closing coal ash ponds, Chesterfield Observer, 2/14/18.

Coal ash dispute headed for more study under bill that clears Senate committee, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/7/18.  Finding a coal ash fix: Legislators propose different options for Dominion waste, Inside NoVa, 1/20/18.

State lawmakers face continuing Bay debates in 2018, Bay Journal, 1/3/18.

Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly: Electric Utility Rate Review Bills

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about water-related bills in the 2018 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Two complicated bills making their way through the 2018 Virginia General Assembly and generating much discussion and scrutiny would change the rate-review structure set up in 2015 General Assembly legislation for Virginia’s two large electric utilities, Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power Company (a subsidiary of American Electric Power).  The bills have water connections because energy use in general is connected in various ways to water use and impacts, and because these bills have requirements for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and grid modernization (including burying of transmission lines to reduce vulnerability to storms).

HB 1558 Electric utility regulation; grid modernization, energy efficiency programs.  As of 2/22/18, this bill had passed the House (63-35 on 2/13/18) was in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.  The bill is sponsored by Del. Terry Kilgore (R-1st) of Gate City.  The bill involves regulation of the Commonwealth’s two regulated electric utility monopolies,Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power.  As passed by the House, the bill changes the review periods that were set in legislation passed in 2015 in response to the federal Clean Power Plan regulation, which the Trump Administration moved to rescind, starting in March 2017 (see the March 28, 2017, Executive Order at this link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-executive-order-promoting-energy-independence-economic-growth/).  The bills also make public interest determinations on three issues specifically relevant to water: investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency (including weatherization), and grid modernization, including putting transmission lines underground to protect against storm damage.  Please see the LIS entry (click on the bill number above) for a much more detailed summary of this complicated bill’s many provisions.

The companion bill is SB 966, sponsored by Sen. Frank Wagner (R-7th) of Virginia Beach.  As of 2/22/18, this bill had passed the Senate (26-13 on 2/9/18) and it was essentially the same as HB 1558 (with some small differences).  A substitute version was reported from the House Commerce and Labor Committee on 2/20/18.

News Media Items Related to This Legislation
Utility overhaul passes House, but with a big amendment to address “double dip,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, as published by Roanoke Times, 2/13/18.

Electric utility regulation bill advances in both chambers, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/8/18.

State regulators say proposed utility overhaul still limits ability to issue refunds, lower rates, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/7/18.

Bill to undo controversial utility rate freeze faces unfriendly panel Monday as Dominion-favored plan is developed, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/13/18.

Reducing Carbon Emissions from Power Plants in Virginia – Public Hearings in March 2018 on Proposed Carbon-trading Regulation; Proposal Follows Gov. Executive Directive Issued May 16, 2017

Following is information on Virginia’s process in 2017-18 to develop regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  The latest update to this post is February 21, 2018.

As of February 2018, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) were planning a series of public hearings on proposed carbon dioxide (CO2)-trading regulation.  The planned public hearings are as follows (dates are hyperlinked to Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notices):
3/7/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Southwest Regional Office, 355 Deadmore Street in Abingdon.  Other public hearings will be as follows:
3/12/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Tidewater Regional Office, 5636 Southern Boulevard in Virginia Beach;
3/14/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg;
3/15/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge (Prince William County);
3/19/18, 1:30 p.m., at the DEQ Central Office, 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.

The pertinent section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 5-140.   More information on this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4818.  According to the “Action Summary” at that Web site, “[t]he purpose of the proposed action is to develop a regulation, in accordance with Executive Directive 11 (2017), ‘Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electric Power Facilities and Growing Virginia’s Clean Energy Economy,’ that (i) ensures that Virginia is trading-ready to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances through a multi-state trading program, and (ii) establishes abatement mechanisms that provide for a corresponding level of stringency to CO2 limits imposed in other states with such limits.”

On May 16, 2017, then-Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed and announced Executive Directive 11, which instructed the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  The directive is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9155/ed-11-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electric-power-facilities-and-growing-virginias-clean-energy-economy.pdf.  Following is an excerpt from the directive: “I hereby direct the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, in coordination with the Secretary of Natural Resources, to take the following actions…
1. Develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board’s consideration to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities that: a. Includes provisions to ensure that Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program; and b. Establishes abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits.
2. By no later than December 31, 2017, present the proposed regulation to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration for approval for public comment….”

The May 16, 2017, directive followed the report on May 12, 2017, of the Executive Order 57 Work Group, which Mr. McAuliffe established in June 2016 to study and make recommendations about reducing carbon emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants.  The group’s final report, along with more information about Executive Order 57, is available online at https://naturalresources.virginia.gov/initiatives/eo-57/.  Please see this link for a previous Water Central News Grouper post on the Work Group.

On June 26, 2017, a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations.  In August 2017, a Regulatory Advisory Committee was formed to provide advice to the DEQ on development of the CO2 regulations.  The committee held its first meeting on August 3, 2017; information on that meeting is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewMeeting.cfm?MeetingID=26367.

Additional Source: Governor McAuliffe Takes Executive Action to Reduce Carbon Emissions Across Virginia; “Clean Energy Virginia” initiative will cap greenhouse gases and grow Virginia’s clean energy economy, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 5/16/17.

Following are some news media accounts on Executive Directive 11, listed from newest to oldest.
Virginia Begins Development of Cap-and-Trade Program for Electric Power Sector, National Law Review, 5/19/17.
Wagner takes aim at McAuliffe carbon order; critics say he’s seeking attention, Daily Press, 5/19/17.
Amid longshot run for governor, Wagner says he’ll call emergency hearing to fight McAuliffe’s climate change plan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/19/17.
Virginia Governor Orders Power Plant Carbon Regulations, POWER Magazine, 5/18/17.
Bucking D.C. and Republican legislature, Virginia governor moves to limit carbon emissions, ThinkProgress (Center for American Progress Action Fund), 5/17/17.
McAuliffe Moves to Cap Utility Carbon Emissions, Bacon’s Rebellion, 5/17/17.
McAuliffe moves to curb carbon emissions blamed for sea level rise, [Newport News] Daily Press, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe: Virginia will regulate carbon emissions; ‘the threat of climate change is real’, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe proposes statewide carbon cap, Washington Post, 5/16/17.
Virginia AG: State board can regulate carbon pollution, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/12/17.
Will Virginia forge its own path on carbon regulation?, Richmond Times-Dispatch,

Virginia Water-related Government Meetings for Feb. 22-Mar. 7, 2018

For more information, click on underlined meeting dates. Click here for the Commonwealth Calendar listing of all government meetings open to the public, and here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall listing of all government meetings of a regulatory nature.

For other, non-governmental, events, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Quick Guide to Virginia Water-related Events.

REGULAR MEETINGS OF STATEWIDE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS

2/24/18, 11 a.m.: Cave Board.  At the Staunton Public Library, 1 Churchville Avenue in Staunton.

2/27/18, 9:30 a.m.: Marine Resources Commission.  At 2600 Washington Avenue in Newport News.

3/2/18, 9:30 a.m.: Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects/Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors section meeting with Virginia Department of Transportation.  At the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, 9960 Mayland Drive in Richmond.

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VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATER-RELATED MEETINGS

For meetings of legislative committees and commissions, see http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?181+oth+MTG.  Links to information about General Assembly commissions, councils, and special interim committees coordinated by the Division of Legislative Services are available online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

Jan. 10-Mar. 10, 2018: Virginia General Assembly, Richmond.  The 2018 General Assembly convenes on January 10 and is scheduled for 60 days; this is a so-called “long session,” which is held in all even-numbered years.  The reconvened (“veto”) session will be held in April.  During long sessions, the Commonwealth’s budget for the upcoming two years is set; amendments to the current biennial budget may be considered both in long and short sessions.  In some years, sessions are extended beyond the scheduled length, particularly for budget discussions (any session may be extended for up to 30 days).  The General Assembly’s Web site, http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php, offers several useful features, including member lists, session calendars, live video of floor sessions, and information on legislative processes.  The Legislative Information System (LIS) Web site, http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm, provides lists and summaries of all bills, searchable by topic, member, committee, etc.  Live video streams of floor sessions are available at http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 for the House and http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3 for the Senate.  Committees are key parts of the General Assembly process. Legislation about water or about activities that can affect water may be assigned to any of several standing committees, most of which meet weekly during the General Assembly session.  As of 2018, live streaming of committee meetings is available.  Information on live streaming of House committee meetings is online at https://publications.virginiageneralassembly.gov/display_publication/209;  for Senate committee meetings, online at http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

Two committees that receive many (but not all) of the water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. (2018 location to be determined, as of 1/10/18); and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Thursdays, one-half hour after adjournment of the day’s floor session, in the Senate Committee Room on the ground floor of the Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.  Information about all standing committees as of the 2018 session—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at http://lis.virginia.gov/181/com/COM.HTM.

Relevant subcommittee meetings for this period:

2/26/18, 4 p.m.: House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources/Subcommittee #1.  Room E400-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

Natural resource-related caucus meetings for this period:

2/22/18, 7 a.m.: Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.  House Subcommittee Room 2, Room E200-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

2/26/18, 4:30 p.m.: Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus.  Room E200-B, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street in Richmond.

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MEETINGS ABOUT TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (or TMDLs) for IMPAIRED WATERS

For more information about TMDLs in Virginia, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site; click on “Public Notices” in the menu to the left to access upcoming meetings and public-comment periods.  A search tool to find approved TMDL reports is available at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterQualityInformationTMDLs/TMDL/TMDLDevelopment/ApprovedTMDLReports.aspx.

3/6/18, 5:30 p.m., on the watershed plan to address aquatic life (benthic) impairment in Cunningham Creek and its tributaries plus bacterial impairment in Middle Ford Cunningham Creek, all located in the James River basin in Fluvanna County.  At the Fluvanna County Public Library, 214 Comons Boulevard in Palmyra.  According to a Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for a meeting on 8/1/17, these waterways were the subject of a TMDL study that began in February 2016, but in May 2017 the TMDL study was suspended and a watershed plan will be developed instead.

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MEETINGS ON OTHER SPECIFIC TOPICS
(topics listed alphabetically)

Air-Water Connections
3/7/18, 5 p.m.: Air Pollution Control Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Trading Regulation.  At the DEQ Southwest Regional Office, 355 Deadmore Street in Abingdon.  Other public hearings will be as follows:
3/12/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Tidewater Regional Office, 5636 Southern Boulevard in Virginia Beach;
3/14/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Valley Regional Office, 4411 Early Road in Harrisonburg;
3/15/18, 5 p.m., at the DEQ Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court in Woodbridge (Prince William County);
3/19/18, 1:30 p.m., at the DEQ Central Office, 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.
The pertinent section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 5-140.   The proposed amendments were published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on 1/8/18; the public comment period runs through 4/9/18.  The proposed amendments follow then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Executive Directive 11 in May 2017 that instructed the DEQ to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  Executive Directive 11 is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9155/ed-11-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electric-power-facilities-and-growing-virginias-clean-energy-economy.pdf].  A Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on June 26, 2017.  More information on this regulatory action is available online at http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/viewaction.cfm?actionid=4818.  According to the “Action Summary” at that Web site, “[t]he purpose of the proposed action is to develop a regulation, in accordance with Executive Directive 11 (2017), ‘Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electric Power Facilities and Growing Virginia’s Clean Energy Economy,’ that (i) ensures that Virginia is trading-ready to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances through a multi-state trading program, and (ii) establishes abatement mechanisms that provide for a corresponding level of stringency to CO2 limits imposed in other states with such limits.”

Energy – Wind
2/28/18, 10 a.m.: Offshore Wind Development Authority.  According to the Authority’s Web site, http://wind.jmu.edu/offshore/vowda/index.html, the 2010 Virginia General Assembly (companion bills HB 389 and SB 577) created this Authority to “facilitate, coordinate, and support development of the offshore wind energy industry, offshore wind energy projects, and supply chain vendors….”

Land and Watershed Management
2/26/18, 6 p.m.: Spearhead Trails Board of Directors.  At Dungannon Depot, 344 Phoenix Street in Dungannon (Scott County).  This meeting is sponsored by the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, online at https://heartofappalachia.com/.  Spearhead Trials is an initiative of the Southwest Regional Recreation Area; more information is available online at https://spearheadtrails.com/about-us/.

2/27/18, 1 p.m.: Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) public meeting (Jan. 17)/Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting (Feb. 27) on the development of a Salt Management Strategy (SaMS) for the Northern Virginia region (first meeting of this advisory committee).  At the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Suite 200,
3040 Williams Drive in Fairfax.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the meeting: “This is a notice for the first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for development of the Salt Management Strategy (SaMS).  Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for chloride associated with salt application from snow and ice management have been developed for the Accotink Creek watershed, located in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax.  These TMDLs are currently in the approval process.  The SaMS is intended to assist in the implementation of the Accotink Creek chloride TMDLs.  The SaMS aims to prepare a strategy that is capable of achieving the target chloride (salt) loads identified in the Accotink Creek TMDLs and that proactively addresses salt application in the broader surrounding region.  The project area for the SaMS includes Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Manassas, Manassas Park, Falls Church, and Fairfax.  For more information on the SaMS visit http://www.deq.virginia.gov/SaMS.aspx.  …All meeting materials related to this project will be posted on the DEQ website at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/SaMS/MeetingMaterials.aspx.

Waste Management/Hazardous Waste
3/6/18, 7 p.m.: Waste Management Board/Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing on a draft permit for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Facility Center’s Wallops Flight Facility to manage hazardous waste in Wallops Island (Accomack County).  At the Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center, Building J20, Route 175, on Chincoteague Road in Wallops Island.  According to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall notice for the March 6 meeting, “NASA Wallops applied for a reissued permit on May 19, 2015, for thermal treatment of propellant by open burning.  The draft permit will allow the facility to thermally treat rocket motors and loose propellant grains by open burning.”  The public comment period on the draft permit runs 2/2/18 to 4/3/18.

Water Quality Regulations and Standards
2/26/18: 10 a.m.: Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Regulatory Advisory Panel on the James River Chlorophyll Study.  At the DEQ’s Central Office 1111 East Main Street in Richmond.  The panel is assisting the DEQ on possible amendments to the existing chlorophyll-a criteria.  Part of the group’s work is to review the James River chlorophyll Science Advisory Panel’s information resulting from a five-year study.  The pertinent section in the Virginia Administrative Code is VAC 25-260-310 bb.

A Virginia Solar Energy Update, as of February 21, 2017: Projects in the News since 2015 in 30 Localities, and Other Statewide Developments

This post presents brief descriptions of some developments in solar energy in Virginia since fall 2015.  The items are listed in chronological order of when they were first added this post.  All hyperlinks were functional as of the news articles’ publication date, but there’s no guarantee that they still will be at the time you may be reading this.

A useful reference for proposed solar projects is the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s “Renewable Energy Projects Notices of Intent” Web site, at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/RenewableEnergy/RenewableEnergyProjectsNoticesofIntent.aspx.

On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Energy’s “SunShot Initiative” is online at https://energy.gov/eere/sunshot/sunshot-initiative.  According to that Web site, SunShot is “a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption.  SunShot aims to make solar energy a low-cost electricity source for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners.”

Virginia electricity use for comparison to the megawatt (MW) capacities noted in the items below: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of 2014 Virginia’s total summer electricity capacity was 26,292 MW.  U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Virginia Electricity Profile 2014,” online at http://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/Virginia/.  As of early 2017, Virginia had about 400 MW of solar-electricity capacity installed, provided by 184 solar companies and accounting for about 3200 jobs, according to Paula Squires, New laws are expected to boost solar development in Virginia, Virginia Business, 3/31/17.

Alphabetical list of the localities mentioned in the items below, with the corresponding item number(s).
Accomack County – 1, 3
Albemarle County – 13, 29
Buckingham County – 8
Charlottesville City – 21
Chesapeake City – 5, 23
Chesterfield County – 2
Clarke County – 11
Danville City – 25
Essex – 14a
Gloucester County – 16, 27
Halifax County – 37
Hanover County – 17, 26, 30
Henrico County – 31
Isle of Wight County – 4
King George County – 35
King William County – 32
Lexington City – 30
Lynchburg City – 30
New Kent County – 12
Northampton County – 9
Orange County – 34
Powhatan County – 14b, 38
Richmond City – 30
Rockbridge County – 10
Spotsylvania County – 36
Southampton County – 6
Suffolk City – 24
Sussex County – 15
Unspecified location – 31 (as of 10/5/17)
Virginia Beach City – 7
Statewide items – 18, 19, 20, 22, 28

1) Accomack County: On September 28, 2015, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the Commonwealth has approved the final permit needed for construction by Community Energy Solar, Inc., of an 80-megawatt solar facility in Accomack County.  The power generated will be sold to Amazon Web Services; Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, Wash., operates several Web services facilities worldwide, including one in Fairfax County, Va.  The Accomack County solar-power facility, to be called Amazon Solar Farm US East, will cover about 900 acres and include an estimated 250,000 solar panels, making it the second-largest solar facility on the U.S. East Coast.  The Governor’s Office’s 9/28/16 news release on the project stated that the facility will “more than quadruple the amount of solar energy currently installed in the Commonwealth.”  In November 2015, Dominion Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Dominion Resources Inc. in Richmond, announced that it had acquired the project from Community Energy Solar, Inc. Dominion expects to begin providing power from the facility in fall 2016.
Sources:
Dominion acquires Accomack solar power project, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/16/15.
Governor McAuliffe Announces Permit for 80 Megawatt Solar Facility in Accomack County; Virginia will be home to the largest solar facility in the Mid-Atlantic and the second largest solar facility on the East Coast, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 9/28/15.
Final permit issued for Oak Hall solar plant, Delmarva Now, 9/28/15.
Amazon moving forward on Accomack solar farm, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/28/15.
Amazon Web Services to expand in Fairfax County, add 500 IT-focused jobs, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority News Release, 5/22/13.

2) Chesterfield County: In March 2016, Dominion Virginia Power opened a 2-megawatt solar facility on 12 acres on land leased from the Philip Morris Company in Chesterfield County.  The facility cost $4.9 million and includes some 8,000 solar panels.  Source:  Solar array in Chesterfield is Virginia’s largest, for the moment, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/16/16

3) Accomack County: On April 20, 2016, Onancock, Va., citizen John VanKesteren told the Accomack County board of supervisors that he and his siblings plan to propose an 80-megawatt, $100 million solar energy project on 600 acres that the family owns near the county town of Tasley.  The Tasley project was the second large solar project proposed in Accomack County in the past year.  Previously, in June 2015, Community Energy, Inc., and Amazon, Inc., announced plans for an 80-megawatt solar project near the Accomack County community of Oak Hall; the project is known as Amazon Solar Farm US East.  In November 2015, Dominion Energy, Inc., bought the Community Energy-Amazon project.  Sources:
Another large solar project proposed in Accomack County, Delmarva Now, 4/25/16.  Dominion acquires Accomack solar farm, Delmarva Now, 11/17/15.

4) Isle of Wight County: In December 2016, Dominion Virginia Power’s Woodland Solar project in Isle of Wight County began operation.  The 100-acre, 19-megawatt-capacity facility cost $44 million.  The project is owned by Dominion but is being managed by Amec Foster Wheeler (online at http://www.amecfw.com/).
Sources:
200 jobs could be opening for potential solar farm in Isle of Wight, Daily Press, 5/16/16.
Dominion’s 100-acre solar site powers up in Isle of Wight, Daily Press, 1/11/17.

5) City of Chesapeake: As of June 2016, Dominion also was a partner with SunEnergy1 of North Carolina on a proposed 241-acre solar facility near Chesapeake.  For more on SunEnergy1 projects, see http://www.sunenergy1.com/#!solar-project-map/u38rs.
Source:
Petition to relocate solar farm in southern Chesapeake draws more than 100 signatures, Virginian-Pilot, 6/23/16.

6) Southampton County: Community Energy Solar (headquartered in Penn.; online at https://communityenergysolar.com/) proposing a 100 megawatt-capacity, 1200-acre facility.  This would be the largest solar-energy facility in Virginia.  Community Energy Solar is also the developer of the 80 megawatt-capacity Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East in Accomack County (see item #1 above in this post).  Amazon Web Services plans to purchase power from both facilities.  Sources: Governor McAuliffe Announces Construction of Virginia’s Largest Solar Farm; New 100MW solar facility to be built in Southampton County, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 1/25/17.  Solar farm proposed near Boykins, Tidewater News, 6/16/16; and Planning commission holds workshop session on solar farm, Tidewater News, 7/22/16.

7) City of Virginia Beach: On August 2, 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that the first solar-energy project to be used for Virginia state operations will be built by Dominion Virginia Power at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.  As of September 2017, construction of the 18-megawatt capacity project on about 100 acres was on schedule with operations expected to begin in late 2017.  The Commonwealth has pledged to purchase 100 percent of the power that the facility will generate.  (In December 2014, Gov. McAuliffe announced a goal for Virginia state government to acquire eight percent of its electricity (about 110 megawatts) from renewable sources by 2017.  Sources:
Governor McAuliffe Announces Solar Project to Power Government Operations with Renewable Energy; The Commonwealth is partnering with Dominion and the Department of the Navy to build solar project at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 8/2/16.
Solar farm nearing completion at Oceana Naval Air Station, Virginian-Pilot, 9/29/17.

8) Buckingham County: On August 11, 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had issued a “permit by rule” for a proposed 19.8-megawatt-capacity solar facility on about 200 acres in Buckingham County.  The facility is planned by Firestone Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Virginia Solar.  According to the Governor’s Office news release on the project, construction of the facility is expected cost $30-35 million and begin in early 2017, with completion expected later that year.  Sources: Governor McAuliffe Announces Utility-Scale Solar Project in Buckingham County, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 8/11/16.  State approves permit for $35 million solar project in Buckingham County, Virginia Business, 8/11/16.  Buckingham County solar project gets go-ahead, Charlottesville Daily Progress, 8/11/16.

9) Northampton County: On August 17, 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had issued a “permit by rule” for a proposed 20-megawatt-capacity solar facility on about 185 acres in Cape Charles.  The “Cherrydale Project” is being proposed by Hecate Energy LLC, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. (online at http://www.hecateenergy.com/).  The electricity produced would be distributed by Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and A&N Electric Cooperative system.  Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces Utility-Scale Solar Project in Northampton County; 20-megawatt facility to provide enough power to supply over 3,000 households, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 8/17/16.

10) Rockbridge County: On August 29, 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that he had commissioned the Commonwealth’s first community solar project at the BARC Electric Cooperative facility in Rockbridge County, serving member-owners Alleghany, August, Bath, Highland, and Rockbridge counties.  According to the governor’s office’s news release on the project, “Community solar allows customers in different locations to join together to get electricity from solar power generated at a single facility, rather than each customer having to install solar on their rooftops.  BARC builds and maintains the system, allowing customers to avoid the upfront cost of installations and continued maintenance.  …The project was funded with a $500,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant through the state, and additional funding was provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development.”  Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces Virginia’s First Community Solar Project; Governor commissions BARC Electric’s solar facility for community member-owners in the region, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 8/29/16.

11) Clarke County: On September 26, 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that Hecate Energy LLC (headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.; online at http://www.hecateenergy.com/) had received a “permit by rule” for the Clarke Solar Farm, 20-megawatt-capacity solar facility in Clarke County.  Source:  Governor McAuliffe Announces Utility-Scale Solar Project in Clarke County, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 9/26/16.

12) New Kent County: On October 19, 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that Correctional Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Virginia Solar, LLC (headquartered in Richmond; online at http://www.vasolarllc.com/), plans to build a 20-megawatt-capacity solar facility in New Kent County.  The facility received a “permit by rule” from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Construction is expected to begin in early 2017.  Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces New Solar Facility Project in New Kent County; 20-megawatt facility to provide enough electricity to cleanly power roughly 3,400 households, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 10/19/16.

13) Albemarle County: On October 20, 2016, solar-energy equipment was installed as six public schools in Albemarle County, totaling 1.1 megawatts of capacity.  According to a news release from the Virginia Governor’s Office, this project is “Virginia’s first public facility power purchase agreement, a partnership between the public schools and Secure Futures, a Staunton-based solar developer. …The project was partially funded by a rural development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The school [system] has entered into a power purchase agreement with Secure Futures that allows the school system to avoid paying upfront capital costs in return for paying a defined price for the energy generated over a set contract period.”  Source:  Governor McAuliffe Unveils Energy Plan Update Highlighting Achievements in Virginia Energy Economy; Announcement coincides with installation of solar panels at six Albemarle County Public Schools, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 10/20/16.

14a) Essex County: On January 4, 2017, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had issued a “permit by rule” for a 20 megawatt-capacity facility by Coronal Development Services on 275 acres in Dunnsville in Essex County; the facility opened in February 2018.  Sources: Essex County solar farm sediment runoff is “an enforcement case”, WTVR TV-Richmond, 2/11/18; Green solar farm is turning an Essex County watershed brown, WTVR TV-Richmond, 2/8/18; Governor McAuliffe Announces 40MW of New Solar Capacity in Virginia; Permits issued for two new solar facilities in Essex County and Powhatan County, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 1/4/17.

14b) Powhatan County: On January 4, 2017, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had issued a “permit by rule” for a 20 megawatt-capacity facility by Virginia Solar on 720 acres in Powhatan County.   Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces 40MW of New Solar Capacity in Virginia; Permits issued for two new solar facilities in Essex County and Powhatan County, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 1/4/17.

15) Sussex County: On January 12, 2017, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had issued a permit to Sappony Solar for a planned a 20 megawatt (MW)-capacity facility in Sussex County.  Sappony Solar is a subsidiary of Dominion Energy, Inc., which in turn is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, based in Richmond.  More information about the project is available online at http://www.vasolarllc.com/project/sappony-solar/Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces New Solar Project in Sussex County; 20 MW project capable of powering about 3,500 homes, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 1/12/17.

16) Gloucester County: In 2017, Strata Solar LLC (headquartered in Chapel Hill, N.C.; online at http://www.stratasolar.com/) began proposing a 20-megawatt-capacity, $30-million facility on 202 acres.  In April 2017, the county’s board of supervisors approved a conditional-use permit for the facility, with construction expected to begin sometime in 2017.  On February 12, 2018, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had issued a permit to Strata Solar Development for construction and operation of the facility, Gloucester Solar, LLC, in Gloucester County. The 19.8 megawatt (MW) project will supply enough electricity to power more than 4,000 homes.  Sources: Governor Northam Announces New Solar Project in Gloucester County; the 19.8 MW project will supply enough electricity to power more than 4,000 houses, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 2/12/18.  200-acre solar farm proposed in Gloucester County, Daily Press [Newport News], 1/21/17.  Could second solar farm be built in Gloucester County?, Daily Press [Newport News], 6/5/17.

17) Hanover County: SunEnergy1 (headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.; online at https://www.sunenergy1.com/) proposing a 20-megawatt-capacity facility on 222 acres; the power would be sold to Dominion Virginia Power.  In February 2017, Hanover County approved the company’s request for a conditional-use permit.  Sources: Hanover Planning Commission approves permit for solar panels on historic Newcastle Farm, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/19/17; Hanover attracts second solar farm proposal, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/16/17.

18) Statewide: The 2017 Virginia General Assembly passed SB 1393 and SB 1395, both sponsored by Sen. Frank Wagner (R-7th District), of Virginia Beach.  The bills do the following, according to the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS) summaries:
SB 1393: Requires Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power to conduct a community solar pilot program for retail customers. A pilot program will authorize the participating utility to sell electric power to subscribing customers under a voluntary companion rate schedule, and the utility will generate or purchase the electric power from eligible generation facilities selected for inclusion in the pilot program.  An eligible generation facility is an electrical generation facility that (i) exclusively uses energy derived from sunlight; (ii) is placed in service on or after July 1, 2017; (iii) is not constructed by an investor-owned utility but is acquired by an investor-owned utility through an asset purchase agreement or is subject to a power purchase agreement under which the utility purchases the facility’s output from a third party; and (iv) has a generating capacity not exceeding two megawatts, subject to an exception.  Pilot programs will have a three-year duration unless renewed or made permanent by appropriate legislation.

SB 1395: Provides that certain small renewable energy projects proposed, developed, constructed, or purchased by either by a public utility (if the project’s costs are not recovered from Virginia jurisdictional customers under base rates, a fuel factor charge, or a rate adjustment clause) or by a utility aggregation cooperative are eligible for a permit by rule and are exempt from environmental review and permitting by the State Corporation Commission;
Specifies that a small renewable energy project shall be eligible for permit by rule if it is proposed, developed, constructed, or purchased by a person that is not a regulated utility;
Exempts any small renewable energy project for which the Department of Environmental Quality has issued a permit by rule from the requirement that it obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity; and
Increases from 100 megawatts to 150 megawatts the maximum rated capacity of solar and wind facilities that qualify as small renewable energy projects.
Related News Media Items
New utility solar program called a small step forward for Virginia renewable energy, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/26/17 [regarding SB 1395].

19) Statewide: In February 2017, the Solar Foundation released the 2016 National Solar Jobs Census, an annual report on U.S. employment in the solar-energy industry.  According to a March 28, 2017, news release from the Virginia Governor’s Office, Virginia ranked second in the Southeast and ninth in the nation (tied with Utah) for “year-over-year” growth in the number of solar-related jobs; and ranked 20th in the country in total number solar employment at 3,236 jobs, a 65-percent increase over 2015.  The National Solar Jobs Census is available online at http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/national/Sources: Solar Accounts for 1 in 50 New U.S. Jobs in 2016, The Solar Foundation News Release, 2/7/17.  Governor McAuliffe Announces 65% Growth in Solar Industry-related Jobs in Virginia in 2016, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 3/28/17.

20) Statewide: In February 2017, Dominion Virginia Power reported that its investments in solar energy had reached $800 million, and that about 398 megawatts (MW) of solar-generation capacity had either been installed or were under development.  In 2015, Dominion committed to placing 400 MW of capacity in service in Virginia by 2020.  Source: Dominion says solar investment reaches $800 million, Virginia Business, 2/14/17.

21) City of Charlottesville: On April 18, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that the University of Virginia plans to install its first large solar project, an array of 324 panels with a 126 kilowatt capacity (0.126 megawatt) on the university’s Clemmons Library  of Governor McAuliffe Announces Solar Array Installation on UVA’s Clemons Library; Array will cover more than 7,500 square feet and is estimated to produce almost 200,000 kWh annually, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 4/18/17; and McAuliffe celebrates UVa solar project — and faces protesters, Charlottesville Daily Progress, 4/18/17.

22) Statewide: On May 1, 2017, Virginia Electric and Power Company—the Virginia subsidiary of Dominion—filed its 2017 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) and the North Carolina Utilities Commission.  According to the company’s news May 1, 2017, news release on the plan, “[t]he IRP is a planning document based on current information and projections regarding energy markets, regulatory requirements and other major factors.  While the document represents the company’s current plan for meeting the future energy needs of its customers, it is not a commitment to build or to request regulatory approval for any particular project.  The document examines options to meet the electricity needs of customers over a 15-year ‘planning period,’ while also considering a longer 25-year study period.”  The 2017 IRP outlines eight alternatives based on different assumptions about regulations and other factors.  In each alternative, the company expects to add at least 5,200 megawatts of new solar generation during the 25-year study period, with solar energy “eventually [being able to] generate electricity at maximum output to serve more than 1.3 million homes when there is sufficient sunlight.”  By 2032, the IRP states, over one-third of Dominion’s Virginia service territory could be served by solar energy combined with electricity from the company’s two Virginia nuclear facilities (North Anna and Surry), with most of the rest coming from natural gas.  Source: Dominion news release: Dominion Virginia Power Plan Sees More Clean Energy, 5/1/17; a link to the 2017 Integrated Resource Plan is available within the text.  News media articles on the 2017 IRP: Dominion Virginia Power Plans Major Solar Boost, Solar Industry, 5/2/17.  Dominion Sings New Tune, Embraces Solar, Bacon’s Rebellion, 5/1/17.  Dominion touts bigger commitment to solar in long-term power plan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/1/17.  Dominion Virginia Power could increase solar capacity by 5,200 megawatts over 25 years, Virginia Business, 5/1/17.

23) City of Chesapeake: On May 9, 2017, three solar-energy proposals came before the Chesapeake City Planning Commission: In the Centerville Turnpike Project, Tradewind Energy of Kansas (online at http://tradewindenergy.com/ (was seeking approval a 15-megawatt (MW)-capacity facility on about 146 acres on Old Centerville Turnpike.  Tradewind was also seeking approval for a 20 MW-capacity facility on 176 acres between Beaver Dan and Head of River roads.  New Energy Ventures, now Caden Energy (offices in California, Florida, and Minnesota; online at https://www.cadenenergy.com/) was seeking approval for 32 MW-capacity project on 154 acres on Ballentine Road (a property known locally as Newbern Farms).  On December 19, 2017, the Chesapeake City Council denied a conditional-use permit for Tradewind Energy’s proposed 15-megawatt-capacity facility planned on Old Centerville Turnpike, and the Council delayed action on Caden Energy’s proposed 32-megawatt-capacity Hickory Solar Farm.  Sources:  3 proposals for solar farms take the spotlight in Chesapeake, Virginian-Pilot, 5/9/17; Chesapeake City Council rejects one solar farm, delays decision on another, Virginian-Pilot, 12/20/17.

24) City of Suffolk: As of May 2017, Tradewind Energy of Kansas (online at http://tradewindenergy.com/) was seeking approval for 15 megawatt capacity project on 184 acres in Suffolk.  Sources: 3 proposals for solar farms take the spotlight in Chesapeake, Virginian-Pilot, 5/9/17; Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’, “Renewable Energy Projects Notices of Intent,” online at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/RenewableEnergy/RenewableEnergyProjectsNoticesofIntent.aspx.

25) City of Danville: On May 30, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced construction is to begin in August 2017 on the Kentuck Solar Project, a 6-megawatt (MW)-capacity facility for the Danville Municipal Utility.  The approximately $10 million project is to be located in Pittsylvania County.  The project is being developed by TurningPoint Energy (headquartered in Denver, Colo.; online at http://turningpoint-energy.com/) and will be constructed by Sol Systems (headquartered in Washington, D.C.; online at https://www.solsystems.com/).  Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces Virginia’s Largest Municipal Utility Solar Farm to Begin Construction in August; Kentuck Solar Project to power more than 900 homes in the City of Danville, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 5/30/17.

26) Hanover County:  As of May 2017, OneEnergy Renewables (headquartered in Seattle, Wash.; online at http://www.oneenergyrenewables.com/) has submitted a notice of intent to seek a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for a 20-megawatt-capacity solar project (known as the OneEnergy Sweetspire, LLC Project) on 165 acres in Hanover County (near Old Church along U.S. 360).  Sources: Virginia DEQ General Notice, “OneEnergy Renewables Small Renewable Energy Project Notice of Intent – Sweetspire Project,” online at https://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewNotice.cfm?gnid=701; Hanover attracts second solar farm proposal, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/16/17.

27) Gloucester County: As of early June 2017, Hexagon Energy LLC (headquartered in Charlottesville, Va.; online at http://hexagon-energy.com/) had submitted to Gloucester County a pre-application for the so-called Farin and Pearfield solar project, which would be a 100-megawatt (MW)-capacity project on 900 acres.  The 100 MW capacity would equal the largest-capacity solar projects proposed so far in Virginia; one 100 MW project has been proposed in Southampton County (see item #6 above) and two such projects have been proposed in Surry County, according to this news report the June 12, 2017, Daily Press.    Proposed solar farm in Gloucester could be largest in Virginia, Daily Press [Newport News], 6/12/17; and Could second solar farm be built in Gloucester County?, Daily Press, 6/5/17.

28) Statewide: In a June 3, 2017, commentary, Pamela F. Faggert, the chief environmental officer and senior vice president of sustainability for Dominion Energy (formerly Dominion Resources), provided the following information regarding Dominion’s current and planned solar activity: 1) Dominion could add “at least 5200 megawatts [MW] of solar generation to its portfolio…during the next 25 years…enough to power more than 1.3 million homes; 2) since 2013, Dominion has put about 1200 MW of capacity into operation in nine states; 3) by 2018, the company expects to have 700 MW of solar capacity in its own operations in Virginia and North Carolina, plus 500 MW contracted from other providers.  Sources: Column: Dominion forging ahead with cleaner, renewable energy, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 6/3/17; Dominion Resources plans to change name to Dominion Energy, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/6/17.

29) Albemarle County: As of June 2017, Community Power Group (headquartered in Bethesda, Md.; online at http://www.communitypowergroup.com/) was seeking negotiations with the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority to lease about 10 acres of land in Ivy for a solar project that could provide power to about 1000 homes.  The project would apparently be done as a consequence of  Senate Bill 1393 in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly, which requires Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power to conduct a community solar pilot program for retail customers.  Sources: RSWA to seek deal for former landfill that could become solar array, Charlottesville Daily Progress, 6/27/17; Virginia Legislative Information System, 2017 Senate Bill 1393 summary, online at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=171&typ=bil&val=sb1393.

30) Hanover County, City of Lexington, City of Lynchburg, and City of Richmond:  In August 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that the Tesla-owned firm Solar City had signed contracts with four Virginia colleges to install and operate solar-power arrays on the college campuses.  The colleges are Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Randolph-Macon College in Ashland (Hanover County), and Virginia Union University in Richmond.  Solar City will own the arrays, and the colleges have an agreement to purchase the solar-generated electricity.  The four schools, along with 12 others in Virginia, used an $807,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy that funded studies of solar-power options on the campuses.  The other 12 schools were still in the planning stage, as of September 2017.  Source: LC partnering with energy firm to bring solar energy to campus, Lynchburg News & Advance, as published by Roanoke Times, 9/9/17.

31) Unspecified locations serving Henrico County: On October 5, 2017, a news release from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that Facebook is planning to invest $$750 million to establish a data center in the White Oak Technology Park in Henrico County, and that the company will also invest “hundreds of millions of additional dollars” in construction of “multiple” solar facilities in Virginia that will “provide…the Henrico data center with 100 percent renewable energy.”  According to the news release, “the project was also made possible through a new renewable energy tariff called Schedule RF, designed by Dominion Energy Virginia and Facebook.  The tariff will allow large energy users, such as Facebook, to meet their needs through the addition of renewable energy sources.  This new product offering will ultimately lead to new business opportunities throughout the Commonwealth.  As a secondary economic benefit, the renewable energy projects served under this tariff must be built in Virginia.”  Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces Facebook to Invest $1 Billion in Virginia, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 10/5/17.

32) King William County: On October 6, 2017, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had issued a permit to Hollyfield Solar for 17-megawatt-capacity solar facility in King William County.  Source: Governor McAuliffe Announces New Solar Project in King William County, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 10/6/17.

33) Statewide – On November 13, 2017, Southeast Energy News published an assessment of the work by the Virginia Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority since its creation in 2015.  The article asserts that the Authority has made relatively little progress in promoting small-scale solar systems.  The November 18, 2016, annual report of the Authority is online at https://www.dmme.virginia.gov/de/LinkDocuments/VSEDA/VSEDA_2016_Annual_Report.pdfVirginia Code sections concerning the Authority are online at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/authorities/solar-energy-development-authority-virginia/Source: Two years after its creation, Virginia solar authority shows little progress, Southeast Energy News, 11/13/17.

34) Orange County: In December 2017, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a special-use permit for a 60-megawatt-capacity, 400-acre solar farm along U.S. Route 20 near the community of Locust Grove.  The applicant is SolUnesco, based in Reston, Va. (online at http://www.solunesco.com/).  SourceSupervisors approve large-scale solar farm in Locust Grove, Orange County Review, 12/14/17.

35) King George County: On December 19, 2017, the King George County Board of Supervisors approved a proposed 20-megawatt-capacity solar facility along Port Conway Road by Port Conway Solar LLC, a Community Energy in Radnor, Penn. (online at https://www.communityenergyinc.com/).  This is the second solar facility approved by the county, following approval in May 2016 of a facility in the county’s industrial park.  Source: King George approves second solar farm amid mixed reviews from residents, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 12/21/17.

36) Spotsylvania County – In late December 2017, Sustainable Power Group, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah (online at http://www.spower.com/), announced in letters to residents that it will propose a 500-megawatt-capacity, 3500-acre solar facility near the community of Fawn Lake (West Catharpin Road).  SourceMassive solar farm proposed in Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 1/8/18.

37) Halifax County – As of January 2018, nine solar projects were in planning stages in Halifax County:
1 – Urban Grid’s (headquartered in Stevensville, Md.; online at http://www.urbangridco.com/) Crystal Hill Solar project, 65 megawatt (MW) capacity on 629 acres off Crystal Hill Road;
2 – Urban Grid project, 80 MW capacity on 600 acres on Alton Post Office Road;
3 – Carolina Solar Energy (headquartered in Durham, N.C.; online at http://carolinasolarenergy.com/) Sunnybrooke Farm project, 51 MW capacity on 340 acres near Scottsburg;
4 – Carolina Solar Powells Creek Farm project, 50 to 70 MW capacity on 397 acres on Alton Post Office Road in Nathalie;
5 – Water Strider Solar, LLC, affiliate of Cypress Creek Renewables, LLC (several locations; online at https://ccrenew.com/) project, 80 MW capacity on 1134 acres on Stage Coach Road near Nathalie;
6 – SB Solar, LLC, affiliate of Cypress Creek Renewables, project, 10 MW capacity on 140 acres on U.S. 501 south near Nathalie;
7 – Stage Coach Solar, LLC, affiliate of Hexagon Energy (headquartered in Charlottesville, Va.; online at http://hexagon-energy.com/) project, 15 MW capacity on 140 acres south of Stage Coach Road in Nathalie;
8 – Piney Creek Solar, LLC, affiliate of Hexagon Energy project, 80 MW capacity on 775 acres on Rodgers Chapel Road near Clover;
9 – Halifax Solar, LLC, affiliate New Energy Ventures (headquartered in Houston, Tex.; online at http://www.neventures.com/) project, 15 MW capacity on 90 acres off Dryburg Road in Clover.
Sources: Planners: Spread out solar projects, South Boston Gazette Virginian, 1/21/18; Solar projects planned for Halifax County up to nine, SoVaNow.com, 12/18/17.

38) Powhatan County – As of February 2018, Sun Energy 1 LLC (headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.; online at https://www.sunenergy1.com/) was proposing the 224 megawatt-capacity Fort Powhatan project in the Burrowsville area of Powhatan County.  Sources: Community meeting to look at proposed solar farm, The Progress Index, 2/16/18; and https://www.sunenergy1.com/copy-of-nc.

Offshore Oil/Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024 Proposed by Interior Department on January 4, 2018; Public Hearing in Virginia was Feb. 21, 2018, in Virginia

On January 4, 2018, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a Draft Program Proposal for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024.  According to the Interior Department’s news release on the proposal (Secretary Zinke Announces Plan For Unleashing America’s Offshore Oil and Gas Potential, 1/4/18), the draft program would “make over 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development. By comparison, the current program puts 94 percent of the OCS off limits. In addition, the program proposes the largest number of lease sales in U.S. history.”  The proposed program would allow three lease sales in the Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes waters off the coast of Virginia.

Following is an additional excerpt from the Interior Department news release:

“The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas – 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region. This is the largest number of lease sales ever proposed for the National OCS Program’s 5-year lease schedule.…

“Release of the DPP is an early step in a multi-year process to develop a final National OCS Program for 2019-2024.  Today’s draft proposal was informed by approximately 816,000 comments from a wide variety of stakeholders, including state governments, federal agencies, public interest groups, industry, and the public.  Before the program is finalized, the public will have additional opportunities to provide input. The 2017-2022 Five Year Program will continue to be implemented until the new National OCS Program is approved.…

“Inclusion of an area in the DPP is not a final indication that it will be included in the approved Program or offered in a lease sale, because many decision points still remain….

“The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, through BOEM, to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales in federal waters, indicating the size, timing, and location of leasing activity that would best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following Program approval.  In developing the National OCS Program, the Secretary is required to achieve an appropriate balance among the potential for environmental impacts, for discovery of oil and gas, and for adverse effects on the coastal zone.  BOEM currently manages about 2,900 active OCS leases, covering almost 15.3 million acres – the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico.  In fiscal year 2016, oil and gas leases on the OCS accounted for approximately 18 percent of domestic oil production and 4 percent of domestic natural gas production….

“The DPP proposes 9 lease sales in the Atlantic Region (3 sales each for the Mid- and South Atlantic, 2 for the North Atlantic, and 1 for the Straits of Florida).  There have been no sales in the Atlantic since 1983 and there are no existing leases.

NEXT STEPS: In conjunction with the announcement of the DPP, the Department is also publishing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.  Public meetings will be held around the country starting on January 16, 2018, to receive comments on the DPP and to inform the Draft Programmatic EIS. Specific dates, times, and venues will be posted on BOEM’s website at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/.  Using the information received from these public meetings, BOEM will prepare a Proposed Program (PP), which will be published for public comment, to be followed by a Proposed Final Program (PFP). In addition, the Department will prepare a Draft Programmatic EIS to be published concurrently with the PP, and a Final EIS with the PFP.  The DPP and the NOI will be available for public comment for 60 days following the publication of the documents in the Federal Register.”

More information from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program, including maps, is available online at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/.  The schedule of public meetings (Jan. 16-Mar. 8, 2018) on the 2019-2024 proposal is online at https://www.boem.gov/National-Program-Participate/.

Additional source for this post:
Virginia, North Carolina are back in play for offshore oil and gas drilling, Virginian-Pilot, 1/4/18.

Additional News Media Items on the 2019-2024 Proposed Program
Governor Northam Statement on Single Public Meeting in Virginia to Discuss Offshore Drilling Plan, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 2/21/18.

Feds reset 5-year plan, but oil recovery is a “15-year story,” Energywire, 1/5/18 (subscription required for access; trial subscription may be available).

Trump admin intends to roll back ban on offshore drilling
, CNN, 1/4/18.

How Trump could vastly expand offshore drilling
, PBS NewsHour, 1/4/18.

Previous Water Central News Grouper items on offshore oil and gas leasing are available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/?s=offshore+oil+and+gas.

For historical information on the issue of offshore oil and gas in Virginia, going back at least to the 1970s, please see the following two articles in 2006 in the Virginia Water Central Newsletter, from the Virginia Water Resources Research Center:
“Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration Report,” February 2006, pp. 14-17, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49344 (includes excerpts from Virginia’s 2006 “Study of the Possibility of Exploring for Natural Gas in the Coastal Areas of the Commonwealth”); and
“Eyes and Ayes on Off-shore Energy Exploration,” September 2006, pp. 1-4, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49346.