Virginia’s newest coal-fired plant is online in Southwest Virginia. Dominion Virginia Power said Wednesday that it placed the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (VCHEC) in St. Paul into commercial operation late Tuesday. After four years of construction, the $1.8 billion project came in on time and on budget, Dominion said.
The plant’s circulating fluidized bed (CFB) project uses coal, waste coal and biomass – waste wood – to generate 585 megawatts, enough electricity for more than 146,000 homes at peak demand. According to Dominion, the station is among the cleanest U.S. coal-fired power stations in terms of air emissions and has one of the nation’s strictest air permits.
“Virginia City is an important addition to our balanced, diverse energy mix that has kept our rates reasonable for our customers. The use of low-cost waste coal and biomass will result in the unit having favorable economics, bringing savings to customers,” David A. Christian, CEO of Dominion Generation, said in a statement. “The power station also has proven to be an economic booster shot for Southwest Virginia.”
At its peak, the project employed nearly 2,400 construction workers. An independent study done for Wise County by Virginia Tech estimated that VCHEC would generate $258.5 million in economic activity for Southwest Virginia annually once it began operations. The company will pay more than $6 million per year in local taxes to St. Paul and Wise County over the next decade.
The station will employ 84 people directly, and a Dominion subcontractor will employ another 25. Virginia Tech estimated the total direct and indirect employment impact of VCHEC after construction would be 528 people, with most of them coming from the coal-mining and trucking sectors.
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