CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Aug. 6 is the deadline for project proposals from potential solar energy providers interested in working with Appalachian Power to diversify the company’s electric generation mix.
Requirements for bids for up to 50 megawatts of solar energy resources included a site in West Virginia for a project with a minimum size of 10 MW and an operational date by Dec. 15, 2022.
Sites must have previously been used for electrical generation or industrial, manufacturing or mining operations. Included were landfills, hazardous waste sites, former industrial sites and former mining sites.
“We’re trying to not disturb new property, not trying to take new property away. We’re trying to use property that’s been used in the past,” said Chris Beam, president and chief operating officer of Appalachian Power.
Interconnectedness with Appalachian Power’s West Virginia distribution system or with PJM, the independent regional transmission organization that manages the electric grid in West Virginia and a dozen other states, was mandated.
One or more facilities could be selected.
The requests for proposals were part of compliance with provisions of SB 583 which became law in early June.
It was billed as economic development legislation.
“As companies are looking to find spots to identify to either build a new business or, even if they currently exist in the state and are looking to expand, they are having requirements put on them to have some portion of their energy provided by renewable resources,” Beam said.
Currently, “As we look at what our portfolio currently has here in West Virginia, we are short to be able to provide that.”
Appalachian Power does have some wind energy capabilities in Greenbrier County.
Under the law, both American Electric Power, the parent company of Appalachian Power, and First Energy, with Mon Power and Potomac Edison, are permitted to install up to 200 megawatts of solar power in 50 megawatt increments in a state built on coal and natural gas.
One megawatt can power about 2,000 homes, Beam estimated.
“We never want to lose sight of our history and our past and certainly we’re proud of that,” he said.
“But as demand changes in the world, there’s two things we can do: 1. We can just sit by and say, ‘Not us,’ or 2. I think we can say, ‘We need to make sure we’re at the table at every one of these discussions’ and, if you have to have these resources to be in the discussion, then we should have them.”
Beam talked about the RFPs during an appearance on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”