Dominion Energy as well as The Nature Conservancy plan solar project on previous Virginia coalfield

Sep 14, 2021 11:29 AM ET
  • The Nature Conservancy and Dominion Energy Virginia are establishing one of the first utility-scale solar projects on previous surface mines in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia.
Dominion Energy as well as The Nature Conservancy plan solar project on previous Virginia coalfield
Image: Dominion Energy

The Highlands Solar project will certainly repurpose about 1,200 acres of the former Red Onion surface mine and surrounding residential properties in Wise as well as Dickenson Counties. The project will generate roughly 50 MW of solar energy.

" This project is a massive win for Southwest Virginia's economy," stated Ed Baine, head of state of Dominion Energy Virginia. "It's additionally one more major action towards constructing a 100% tidy energy economic climate in Virginia. Repurposing former coal mines for solar is a clever method to boost the area's economic climate and bring renewables to Southwest Virginia."

This project announcement comes 2 months after The Nature Conservancy announced a comparable effort to construct solar on previous extracted lands with Charlottesville-based Sun Tribe, and Washington, D.C.-based Sol Systems. Taking all 3 business' efforts with each other, the utility-scale solar projects within the Cumberland Forest Project will certainly cover almost 1,700 acres and also produce an estimated 120 MW of solar power.

" Southwest Virginia and also the bigger Central Appalachian coalfields have an important role to play in the renewable energy economic situation," claimed Brad Kreps, director of The Nature Conservancy's Clinch Valley Program. "Several of the area's previous mined lands are well fit for solar development and by routing advancement in the direction of these locations it will assist us save the area's intact forests for timber products, carbon storage space, wildlife habitats, exterior recreation and also tourism. By working together with Dominion Energy and also various other business on these initial projects, we want to create a model that can be replicated in various other coal mining regions across the U.S."

The Highlands Solar project will be established within the Cumberland Forest Project and bordering properties. Managed by The Nature Conservancy, the Cumberland Forest Project was announced in 2019 and encompasses almost 253,000 acres of land in Southwest Virginia, Eastern Tennessee and Eastern Kentucky.

The majority of the property is marked for the protection as well as remediation of native forests. Nonetheless, there are several thousand acres of non-forested, former surface area coal mines that can support solar power projects and also regional financial development with marginal effects to the setting.

Over the following two to three years, Dominion Energy will perform extra field researches, further establish the project strategies, and complete the regional as well as state allowing procedures. The company will collectively establish the project with ANTARES Group, which will function as the owner's engineer. The company intends to begin building in 2024 or 2025, subject to review and also authorization by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

" For generations, Southwest Virginia's coalfields have powered America's residences and also our economy," stated Delegate Terry Kilgore. "As we transition to cleaner energy, Southwest Virginia is once again blazing a trail. I'm thrilled to see The Nature Conservancy, Dominion Energy, and various other solar designers investing in our region and also helping to pave the way for the next generation of economic progress in Southwest Virginia."