Danville City Council approves solar power agreement

Danville will enter into a solar power agreement with American Municipal Power.

Danville City Council unanimously voted to approve a proposal authorizing the city manager to enter into a 15-year purchase power agreement with the company for 20 megawatts of solar energy capacity and renewable energy credits for up to $50 per megawatt-hour.

“This will increase our renewable energy footprint quite a bit,” Vice Mayor Gary Miller said just before the vote. “I wholeheartedly recommend this to council.”

In a letter to City Council, Danville Utilities Director Jason Grey pointed out that market energy prices have increased significantly over the past eight months. About 10% of the city’s energy is bought on the daily energy market, he said.

“The city’s energy needs are growing due to recent economic development announcements in 2023-24 that will increase that market exposure from 10% to 17%,” Grey wrote. “It is staff’s recommendation to enter into this 15-year solar purchase power agreement to reduce the city’s market exposure and take advantage of a low-cost, renewable, joint venture that will benefit Danville Utilities electric customers.”

The city’s agreement with AMP will be part of a company-led project in western Ohio including a 150-meagwatt solar farm.

“We can be an investor in the project and benefit from the cost of the energy,” City Manager Ken Larking told the Danville Register & Bee on Wednesday.

The cost offered by the project to the city is not as high as it would be on the open market, he said. Those savings would be passed on to the consumer in the form of lower utility bills, he said.

“We like to have a mix of contracts and market power in a variety of purchase contracts that are staggered in their timeframe the contract covers so we are able to mitigate the risk of high-cost power,” Larking said.

In other matters, City Council approved the purchase of the Page Road pumping station from Pittsylvania County for $64,270. The station will provide a million gallons of water per day to the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill in southwestern Pittsylvania County and other parts of the county.

“The [megasite] was designed with a daily water capacity of seven million gallons per day,” Grey wrote in a letter to City Council. “Up to six million gallons per day will be provided through a separate service from the City of Eden, N.C.”

The city negotiated the purchase through a memorandum of understanding with the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority and the county. The authority owns the megasite.

The pumping station, located beside the city’s Moorefield Bridge water tank near Westover Drive, has been dormant since 2010.

City Council also approved a resolution allowing Danville’s economic development office to apply for $5 million from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to help pay for the $85 million White Mill redevelopment project.

The Alexander Company, in a joint venture with the Danville Industrial Development Authority, plans to bring new apartments and new commercial space to the White Mill building.

Plans for the White Mill project include 110,000 square feet of commercial space, 150 apartment units (with an additional 100 units in the future) and 219 interior parking spaces. In addition, the covered bridge that spans the Dan River from the north side of the White Mill to the former Long Mill site is being restored. The bridge will be for pedestrians and will connect the north and south sides of the Riverwalk Trail.