Old Dominion plans to deploy three buoys near the end of Cobham Wharf Road in Surry County, the site it favors to draw river water to the plant.
The buoys will each contain a different type of screen that Old Dominion hopes will show which collects the least amount of algae, barnacles and other debris known as "bio-fouling."
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission granted the request despite the objections of power plant foes, who are concerned, among other things, that the buoys could harm the environment, especially nearby sturgeon.
"Those concerns are all of our concerns," said Helen Eggleston, who lives near the proposed site of the plant.
Commissioners noted that other agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, approved the project. Also, they stated the commission's approval does not indicate its support of the coal plant.
Old Dominion plans to install the buoys as early as next month. They could be anchored there for about 26 weeks, according to commission documents.
The permit is one of many local, state, and federal permits that Old Dominion needs to secure before building the plant, dubbed Cypress Creek Power Station.
Old Dominion announced last year it would delay building the plant due to a shaky economy and uncertain federal regulations.
The plant is still subject to a lawsuit by a handful of complainants, including Eggleston, who allege that Old Dominion and the town of Dendron did not include proper information in legal ads published before a meeting last year. Dendron is Old Dominion's preferred location for the plant.