In its filing Dominion requested that the commission approve the projected $1.6 billion Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center by April 2008 to allow adequate time for it to be built and begin operating by 2012. The commission must approve the construction and operation of the energy center and it must establish a rate of return for the company's investment in the project.
"The power station we are proposing will be a model of modern environmental controls and among the very cleanest fossil-fueled electric generating stations in the country," said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "When it begins operating in 2012, it will provide clean, reliable electricity to serve the fast-growing needs of Virginia's citizens and businesses. This proposed plant is an important step in our effort to meet the state's burgeoning electric demand growth."
In testimony filed with the commission, Dominion said the station would have controls and features to reduce emissions and protect the environment, including:
- A design to make it carbon-capture compatible, meaning that technology to capture carbon dioxide could be added to the station when it becomes commercially available. Dominion is sponsoring research at Virginia Tech to see if it is possible to sequester carbon dioxide in coal seams in Southwest Virginia. If possible, greenhouse gasses from the power station could eventually be sequestered. Carbon capture technology is entitled to extra incentive premiums under Virginia's regulatory framework.
- The use of circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as a clean-coal technology for reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The power station will also use an air filter called a bag house to remove particulates and mercury.
- The capability to use a wide range of coal qualities, including waste coal, and up to 20 percent biomass. Piles of unused waste coal can lead to acidic leaching that causes environmental problems in Southwest Virginia.
- Additional controls to remove even more sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
- Air cooled condensers to reduce water usage at the station by nearly 90 percent when compared to typical coal-powered facilities.
- The possible beneficial recycling of combustion by-products for the manufacturing of cement.
"Dominion is committed to meeting its obligation to customers to provide reliable and cost-effective electricity in an environmentally responsible manner. We intend to fulfill that obligation through a combination of energy conservation, renewable resources and clean technology," Farrell said.
Dominion recently announced a number of initiatives to help customers conserve energy and protect the environment. They include pilot programs for air-conditioner controls, "smart metering" and other energy reduction measures, and partnering with the U.S. EPA/DOE ENERGY STAR program to promote use of energy efficient appliances.
The company also is committed to reaching a goal of having 12 percent of its electricity come from renewable resources by 2022 and to helping the commonwealth develop a comprehensive long-term energy conservation plan as directed by the General Assembly.
The station will be located on a 1,700-acre site near St. Paul in Wise County. It would provide enough power to serve 146,000 residential customers. Under a state law encouraging the construction of the station, it would be powered by Virginia coal. The station would employ up to 800 workers during construction. Once complete, the station would have 75 full-time employees, and it also would create about 350 mining jobs in the area.