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Dominion acquires Virginia BESS project from Equinor-owned developer in long-term clean energy plan

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US utility Dominion Energy has taken another small step towards fulfilling its role in Virginia’s energy transition with the acquisition of a 15.7MW battery storage project in development.

At the beginning of this week, its regional subsidiary Dominion Energy Virginia announced it had put a clean energy plan before the regulatory Virginia State Corporation, the company’s third annual filing of that type.

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As reported by our sister site PV Tech yesterday, that included 22 new solar PV projects and one energy storage project, which it would either own and operate itself, or contract for with third-party owners through power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Those account for a total of more than 800MW of clean energy, with about 500MW of own-and-operate and 300MW of third-party PPAs.

Dominion Energy Virginia president Ed Baine called the plan “another big step in delivering clean, affordable and reliable energy to our customers,” which would create nearly a billion dollars in net economic benefits.

The sole battery energy storage system (BESS) project included in that is a standalone battery facility Dominion has acquired from East Point Energy, which is the grid-scale BESS developer acquired by Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor a few months back.

It is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Equinor, which incidentally also invested to buy a 45% stake in UK-based energy storage developer Noriker Power and recently announced its first BESS project in that country.  

The project freshly acquired by Dominion, Shands, will have an energy storage capacity of 62.9MWh to its 15.7MW output and will come online in 2023

It’s the fourth project East Point Energy has developed before flipping and selling since the company’s founding in 2018, all in Virginia, with one of the previous being Dry Bridge, a 20MW/80MWh project it also sold to Dominion Energy.

Dry Bridge was the sole standalone BESS project included in Dominion’s 2021 annual clean energy plan. East Point Energy this week reaffirmed that Dry Bridge is expected to come online this year as scheduled.

“This project represents another critical step in expanding the energy storage programme within the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Dominion Energy manager of energy storage business development Brandon Martin said of the Shand project’s acquisition.

“The project will continue to support the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), as further expansion of energy storage within the Commonwealth will play an invaluable part in ensuring grid reliability during periods of high demand and periods of inherently intermittent renewable generation.”

Another small step ahead of a giant leap to come

However, although it is indeed a step forward, the acquisition makes only a small dent in the company’s contribution to the VCEA.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northiam signed into law last year the act. It targets 100% emissions-free electricity by 2045. As such it includes one of the US’ most ambitious state targets for energy storage deployment – 3.1GW by 2035 – and as one of Virginia’s main utilities, Dominion Energy must bring online or contract for a 2,700MW share of that total.

It was only in summer this year that the utility put into operation three pilot battery storage projects. All located at the same site, the three systems total 12MW/48MWh, and are being used to try out a variety of different applications and configurations.

The pilot systems are designed to help Dominion determine how best to deploy energy storage in its service area and were enabled by an earlier piece of Virginia legislation, the 2018 Grid Transformation and Security Act.

Dominion is now awaiting the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s approval on its latest clean energy filing projects including the Shand BESS.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Tourino Jacobo for PV Tech.

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