Coal plant would be environmental boon

VIRGINIA CITY, VIRGINIA - Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, Dominion's proposed power plant, is undoubtedly the most positive environmental project that has been planned for our region in the past 100 years.

The center is designed to burn coal waste such as the gob piles that are polluting almost every stream that feeds the Clinch and Powell River watersheds, causing significant harm to area aquatic life. These gob piles are historic byproducts of coal mining in Southwest Virginia, predating current environmental laws, and are the No. 1 contributor of particulate and acid runoff to area streams and rivers.

Millions of tons of coal waste will be cleaned up dramatically as these gob piles are recovered to fuel Dominion's new plant. Fortunately, the majority of gob piles are low sulfur coal, which burns cleaner and has lower emissions than much of the coal produced today.

Millions of tons of gob piles exist along streams in Southwest Virginia. Dominion's proposed power plant is a truly historic opportunity to adequately address this problem.

I speak from experience as I've spent most of my career in the coal business and am now in the business of reclaiming and removing environmentally harmful coal gob piles. Additionally, I work in the wood products industry.

The initial fuel design for the plant also allows for burning 20 percent wood, a renewable and plentiful resource in our area. There should not be an increase in area logging, because byproducts of existing wood products businesses can supply most of the wood component needed for the plant and logging for just fuel for the power plant would not be economically feasible.

The proposed Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center will be situated next to one of the largest natural gas fields in Appalachia. The main pipelines that transport vast volumes of natural gas out of the gas field are within a couple miles of the planned facility. In all likelihood, Dominion will consider adding natural gas-fired turbines for peak generation once the plant is up and running. Natural gas, another abundant resource in our region, is one of the cleanest energy resources on Earth.

Millions of dollars of annual revenue will flow through Wise, Dickenson and neighboring counties as a result of Dominion's power plant. It is expected that the proposed plant will employ more than 100 people. No doubt, many related businesses will develop, generating even more jobs and sorely needed economic growth in the region.

The Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center will use state-of-the-art pollution controls, lower water intake (90 percent less than standard power plants), and the latest in all technological advancements in pollution control and power generation. Clearly, Dominion is working to build a power plant that replaces older technology and addresses environmental concerns.

Ultimately, Dominion's plant will do more for our area, both environmentally and economically, than any other business has done in many years.


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