Virginia considers solar P3 project

Virginia is exploring the possibility of using state-owned property for the project, which would be the first non-transportation P3 in the state.

Virginia, through its Office of Public-Private Partnerships (VAP3) and in coordination with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a potential solar development project that would be located on state-owned property, Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.

The RFI is seeking responses from individuals or firms that have experience with solar energy development projects and that may have an interest in developing, designing, building and/or financing a solar energy P3 project.

By using state-owned property for the project, the state would also be generating additional revenues.

“Existing state assets have great potential to generate new revenues and reduce energy costs from solar energy,” VAP3 director Douglas Koelemay said in the statement. “Responses to our RFI will help unlock this potential and help us keep our facilities in good repair.”

According to the statement, this initiative is just one component of McAuliffe’s energy plan which includes growing and diversifying Virginia’s energy sector with a focus on renewables and reducing energy costs and consumption statewide.

“My administration is committed to tapping private sector innovation to determine how the public sector can lead by example,” Governor McAuliffe said. “Virginia has the drive and resources to become a leader in the energy sector,” he added.

Part of the Governor’s four-year plan also includes establishing a state solar energy development authority, which would facilitate P3 projects in the solar sector.

While Virginia has a strong track record in delivering projects using the P3 model – it was one of the first states in the country to adopt enabling legislation, passing the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) in 1995 – it has done so in the transportation sector.

VAP3, until recently known as OTP3 [the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships], initially focused on transportation P3s. It recently dropped the specific reference to transportation as it seeks to pursue P3 projects beyond the transportation sector, such as social infrastructure, Jacqueline Cromwell, a VAP3 spokesperson, explained.

In 2002 the state passed the Public-Private Educational Facilities Infrastructure Act (PPEA), which effectively applies to every other infrastructure sector outside transportation, Cromwell said. “But the PPEA has been underutilised as it is more prescriptive and contains a dollar value limit on what you can do,” she noted.