Dominion Virginia Power has asked its Virginia regulator to approve construction of a 1,358-megawatt combined cycle, natural gas-fired power station that would serve growing customer demand and replace electricity from aging coal-fired power stations that are being retired for economic and environmental reasons.
If approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), the $1.3 billion power station would be built in Brunswick County on a 214-acre site on U.S. Route 58 east of Lawrenceville, Virginia, and begin providing enough electricity for 340,000 homes by the spring of 2016. The initial increase in the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh of electricity would be 83 cents, effective Sept. 1, 2013.
PJM Interconnection, the 13-state regional transmission organization, projects that Dominion's service area will be one of its fastest growing regions. To meet the projected growth, Dominion's strategy calls for a cost-effective and low-risk approach that emphasizes a balanced and diverse fuel mix of nuclear, natural gas, coal, hydro and renewable energy sources, and conservation options.
Also, Brunswick County Power Station is needed to replace more than 900 megawatts of coal-fired generation from the Chesapeake Energy Center and Yorktown Power Station, which will be retired by 2015 because new federal environmental regulations make them uneconomic to continue to operate. Likewise, more than 19,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation will be retired from 2011 through 2019 in PJM, with most retiring by the end of 2015.
Company testimony indicates that the power station would have reduced system fuel expenses by an estimated $112 million had it been operating in 2011. The station will be able to take advantage of low natural gas prices and is designed to comply with stringent new environmental regulations. It will also employ an air-cooled condenser that reduces water consumption by more than 90 percent as compared to a water-based cooling tower. Dominion has received local approvals from Brunswick County and has applied to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for an air permit.
A September 2012 economic analysis said the project will provide direct and indirect economic benefits during construction to the state of almost $824 million with about $451 million of that amount occurring in Brunswick County. Construction also would support approximately 380 jobs annually in the commonwealth with more than half of those jobs being in Brunswick County. More than 500 workers would be required at the height of construction to build the station.
Once operating, the station will provide employment for 43 people and economic benefits statewide of approximately $51 million annually, with most of the benefits occurring in Brunswick County, the study said.