Coronal Energy and Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC), a member-owned electric distribution cooperative, celebrated the commissioning of the Palmer and Martin solar centers in central Virginia today. Governor Ralph Northam joined public officials, CVEC’s board, landowners, and representatives from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to mark the occasion with an on-site ceremony.
“I applaud CVEC for demonstrating that low-cost renewable energy is a viable concept in rural Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “It is critical that the Commonwealth of Virginia not be left behind as a destination for the one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy, and these projects set the example that solar energy can compete anywhere.”
Located along the Interstate 64 corridor, the two projects totaling 10 MWac were constructed by EPC contractor McCarthy Building Companies and will generate enough clean, affordable, and reliable electricity to power roughly 1,200 homes annually. Together, they combine to make up the largest solar project in the state for an electric distribution cooperative. CVEC will purchase the projects’ output under a 25-year power purchase agreement, while Coronal Energy will own and operate the facilities.
“Virginia is open for solar business,” said Danny Van Clief, president of Coronal Energy. “With Charlottesville as our east coast hub and a decade of continuous operations in the state, Coronal is proud to partner with CVEC on a pair of projects that will pave the way for the accelerated adoption of solar energy.”
CVEC serves some 36,000 members across 14 Virginia counties, and is one of 11 cooperatives in the state currently using solar energy, according to NRECA. The Palmer Solar Center in Troy and the Martin Solar Center in Kents Store are located in Fluvanna and Goochland counties, respectively, where CVEC serves over 9,000 members.
CVEC plans to offer 4 of the 10 MW generated by the solar centers to its members as a part of Solar Share, its community solar program. CVEC is the first electric cooperative to receive approval of the community solar rate under the new statute.
“As a not-for-profit, member-owned organization, CVEC’s strategy remains focused on capturing tremendous value for our co-op members,” said Gary Wood, president and CEO of CVEC. “Adding cost-effective solar power to our diversified portfolio furthers that mission, as we continue to provide reliable, affordable energy to the communities, businesses, and residents we serve.”
One of the two sites also boasts a coincidental but fitting connection to CVEC through Grover Palmer, a 39-year veteran of CVEC who retired in 2002, and his wife, Wanda. About 41 acres of their land in Troy now host the eponymous Palmer Solar Center. Previously contracted out to corn and soybean growers, the land proved attractive for solar development because of its flat ground and close proximity to co-op electricity grid infrastructure.
“It’s the first time in my history of solar development where the landowner is also a former employee of the utility,” said Kyle West, vice president of development for Coronal Energy. “What a fitting testament to just how connected co-ops are to their members and communities.”
Electric cooperatives are accelerating the procurement of solar energy on behalf of their members and customers across the country. According to NRECA, by the end of 2017 the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives had tripled in the past three years and increased fivefold in the last two years alone. By NRECA’s most-recent count, 443 co-ops in 43 U.S. states are using solar energy today.
“CVEC’s two new solar facilities wonderfully embody the community spirit of America’s electric cooperatives,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of NRECA. “Co-ops empower local communities to thrive by providing affordable, reliable, and—more than ever—clean energy. The Palmer and Martin solar centers are the latest testament to co-op’s role advancing the development of solar energy in communities across the country.”
The Martin and Palmer Solar Centers are part of Coronal’s expanding Virginia portfolio. In addition to developing and transacting six PV projects in the state, which total 80 MWac, the firm manages a strong Virginia pipeline of projects at various stages of development.
News item from Coronal Energy