Vote on proposed coal plant in Wise County expected by end of day

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Paula C. Squires

Following a day and a half of public hearings, the state’s Air Pollution Control Board has begun deliberations on air permits for a controversial “clean coal” plant Dominion Virginia Power wants to build in Wise County. A vote on the $1.8 billion, 585-megawatt Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center is expected by 5 p.m. today, according to Dominion officials. A thumbs up would clear the way for the Richmond-based energy company to begin building the plant, which it says is needed to help Virginia meet future energy demands.

Hundreds of people turned out for a day-long public hearing on the project yesterday. The board, meeting in Wise County, heard from local politicians and representatives of local coal companies who backed the plant as a much-needed economic boost for Southwest Virginia. Speaking in opposition were some residents and environmentalists concerned about increased levels of pollution and the impact they would have on health. 

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality recommended today that the board grant Dominion the permits, but with a requirement of lower emissions for sulfur dioxide and mercury than what was originally proposed by Dominion.


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