Dominion Energy is taking steps to invest about $330 million between two projects — a power plant and a solar farm — in Pittsylvania County, according to an announcement Friday.
The 500 megawatt, combustion turbine power plant, which will be a total investment of more than $200 million, is projected to be the first business at the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill, located in Pittsylvania County a few miles west of Danville.
The power plant at Berry Hill is projected to be completed and operational by April 2022, said Rayhan Daudani, Dominion Energy spokesman.
This project will allow the county to generate revenue to put back into improving the infrastructure at the megasite and attracting additional industry, said Matt Rowe, director of economic development for Pittsylvania County.
“It just catalyzes the rest of the development of the park for large automotive and advanced manufacturing users,” he said.
Though currently unoccupied, the Southern Virginia Megasite, which is jointly owned by the city of Danville and Pittsylvania County, is the largest industrial park in Virginia at 3,528 acres.
Daudani said the incentive package still is being negotiated between Pittsylvania County and Dominion Energy.
The other investment of $130 million will come from Maplewood Solar project, a 120 megawatt solar farm 7 miles northwest of Chatham. Dominion has purchased the Maplewood Solar project, which was owned by Open Road Renewables. Open Road Renewables already had obtained the necessary special use permit from Pittsylvania County zoning, and now Dominion will take over the process of getting the proper permits from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
At this time, Daudani could not provide a specific timeline for the development of the solar project.
Representatives from Open Road Renewables could not be reached for comment on this story.
The power plant, which will be connected to the existing Transco natural gas pipeline that runs through the Berry Hill Megasite, will be a peaking station, meaning it only will be used during peak times where the renewable energy options can’t keep up with demand, Daudani said. That translates to the plant producing power somewhere between 5% to 20% of the time.
“We need something if there’s a lot of demand on a hot summer day or a cold winter day,” he said.
At full power, the plant could provide enough power for 125,000 homes, according to the news release from Pittsylvania County.
Fred Shanks, chairman of the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority and a Danville city councilman, said in the news release this could have a positive effect on Dominion customers in the region.
“Danville Power and Light customers should also benefit from lower congestion prices in this part of Virginia, due to the peak power generation that will occur in our area during high demand months,” he said.
So far, Dominion has taken two steps toward the power plant, Daudani said: filed intentions with the regional operator of the transmission grid and requested an air permit with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
Moving forward, they will need to issue a request for proposal and ask for a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the State Corporation Commission.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing for our customers,” Daudani said.
During the two-year construction phase, the Berry Hill site is projected to generate 150 to 200 construction jobs. Once complete, the facility will provide five permanent jobs.
Rowe said these two projects are expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenues, both for the city of Danville and Pittsylvania County, over their lifespans.
“We find the projects to be a good mix of energy sources and we feel like it’s a good fit for the region,” he said.
“These projects and their associated investments will be a tremendous boost for our growing economy,” added Bob Warren, Vice-Chairman of the Regional Industrial Facility Authority (RIFA).
Dominion, based in Richmond, has operations in 18 states, including a facility in Hurt.
Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.