Dominion Virginia Power, a US-based producer and transporter of energy, said it will convert three Virginia power stations from using coal to biomass, generating up to $350m for the local economy over the next 30 years.
The power stations in Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton County are identical and went into operation in 1992.
If the local governments – the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia State Corporation Commission – approve the conversion, operation of the plants could start in 2013.
David Christian, CEO of Dominion, said, ‘Our proposal to convert these units from coal to biomass provides customers with economical electricity, delivers environmental benefits and takes advantage of a renewable, low-cost fuel source.’
The total economic impact of the 30 year life of the stations will be more than $350m including $30m in local taxes, $180m for the creation of jobs in the forestry ad trucking industries, and $120m paid to 90 employees working at the stations.
The conversion would reduce nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulate emissions. All the stations would meet new emissions standards established by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Dominion plans to also meet the state’s voluntary Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires 15 per cent of the company’s generation to be from renewable resources by 2025.
Each of the units produce 63MW of electricity of peaking power, running only when the demand is at its highest. When converted, they would generate 50MW of electricity each, but operate all of the time.
The stations would obtain most of their fuel from the waste wood left from timbering operations and generate enough electricity to provide for 37,500 homes.
Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell, said, ‘Conversion of these units to biomass creates jobs and generates tax revenues in a manner that will have a positive impact on the environment. The majority of the biomass product being used – wood slash – is typically left on the ground after timber or logging operations are complete. So, the state is now better utilisng a product that would normally go to waste.’
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