Activists Vow All-Out War Against Plans for New Coal-Fired Power Plant in Virginia

Coal-fired Plant

A proposal by Old Dominion Electric Cooperative for a new power plant in central Virginia has local environmental activists up in arms.

An environmental coalition that includes the Sierra Club and Chesapeake Climate Action Network is strongly opposed to the $6 billion plant, saying they are extremely concerned and are pledging “all-out war” against the plans.[social_buttons]

“At a time when a majority of Virginians believe that action is required on climate change we have Old Dominion Electric Cooperative ignoring both public opinion and climate science to propose a massive new coal plant. It’s not just about climate change; as a resident of Wise County I see the devastation of mountaintop removal coal mining every day. We’ve lost 29 mountains already.” – Kathy Selvage, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards

ODEC’s announcement is in sharp contrast with a survey released in October by the Miller Center of Public Affairs and University of Virginia which found that 72% of Virginians believe immediate action is needed to address global warming. The Governor’s Climate Commission report is also soon to be released, which calls for reducing the state’s total carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

So why more coal plants? Well, the power company seems to think that coal is clean:

“Coal is a stable, reliable source of generation, and it seemed the most economical thing to do. With all of the new technology out there, this is going to be the cleanest coal plant anywhere in the United States β€” it’s two generations beyond many of the plants out there.” – Jeb Hockman, ODEC spokesman

According to Glen Besa, Sierra Club-Virginia, “Utilities in Virginia seem to be in denial about global warming.”

“In the face of an economic recession and mounting threats from climate change, the prospect of introducing an unnecessary $6 billion coal plant is outrageous. ODEC’s proposal is extremely concerning and out of touch.” – Tom Cormons, Campaign Coordinator with Appalachian Voices

The power plant, named Cypress Creek Power Station, is planned for 1,600 acres in Surry County Virginia,Β  but is only in preliminary stages and will still require permits before construction can begin. Appalachian coal would be the main source of fuel to produce up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity, with only about 3% of the fuel coming from timber wastes, or biomass.

The Surry site was picked because of its access to existing electrical transmission lines, a water supply, and rail transportation for the coal. ODEC target for the plant is to be operating by 2016.

Image: jonasclemens at Flickr under Creative Commons License

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