Appalachian Power has announced it is seeking proposals on the construction of 200 megawatts (MW) of solar power to add to its portfolio.

The proposed construction must take place in Virginia, be fully operational by the end of 2021 and fully qualify for the Federal Investment Tax Credit.

According to a news release, if proper proposals are met, Appalachian Power will seek regulatory approval in both Virginia and West Virginia to begin work.

Each proposed project is required to produce at least 50 MW and will be connected to the PJM Interconnection, which spans 13 states including West Virginia.

“We have been seeking to add large-scale solar projects to Appalachian Power’s generation portfolio for several years so all customers can benefit from cleaner energy resources,” Chris Beam, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said in the release. “Solar development costs continue to decline, and we are hopeful that this RFP process will result in one or more projects.”

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which calls itself the national trade association of the solar industry, as of July, Virginia has over 635 MW of solar installed.

Those installations, an investment of over $777 million, power nearly 70,000 homes, or 0.59 percent of all of Virginia’s electric production.

SEIA estimates that Virginia’s solar production will expand to 2,293 MW over the next five years.

By comparison, West Virginia’s solar production totals 6.56 MW and powers 849 homes.

In May, Appalachian Power’s proposal to buy two wind farms, one in Greenbrier County and another in Ohio, was denied by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, which stated that construction costs would cause an unneeded increase in power bills and a burden on taxpayers.

Virginia’s Public Service Commission also voted against the effort.

Earlier this month, Lazard, a global asset management firm, published its yearly cost of electric production report.

That report found that it may be less expensive to build new renewable energy projects than to maintain existing conventional electric generation sources.

“Although diversified energy resources are still required for a modern grid, we have reached an inflection point where, in some cases, it is more cost effective to build and operate new alternative energy projects than to maintain existing conventional generation plants,” George Bilicic, vice chairman and global head of Lazard’s Power, Energy & Infrastructure Group, said in a news release. “As alternative energy costs continue to decline, storage remains the key to solving the problem of intermittency and we are beginning to see a clearer path forward for economic viability in storage technologies.”

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