Home Energy and Environment How Few Jobs Will Wise County Coal Plant Create?

How Few Jobs Will Wise County Coal Plant Create?


Dominion Virginia Power is spending $1.8 billion dollars worth of your electric bills to build a dirty coal-fired power plant in Wise County. How many jobs will that investment of our money deliver? Shockingly few, according to the Virginia Mining Association (PDF):

At the end of July, there were about 1,800 men and women employed in the construction of the 585-megawatt power station. The work force included about 600 people from the local area, accounting for 33.4 percent of total employment. The local area is defined as being within a 50-mile radius of the town of St. Paul, with Wise, Russell and Scott counties accounted for the majority of the local hires. Additionally, the staff that will operate the power station is being formed and trained. After Oct. 4 operations employment will stand at 34 with half of those hires coming from the local area.

Well hey, that’s only $106 million of our money per permanent job for local residents. What a bargain!

Meanwhile, a Virginia State Corporation Commission analyst has testified (PDF) that, because the higher rates needed to pay for it, the plant will cost Virginia 1,474 jobs.

Now, apologists for this terrible deal will say, “But they need every job they can get in Wise County!” By that rationale, why bother actually building this polluting plant? As the Chesapeake Climate Action Network has pointed out, we could pay 75 Wise County residents $100,000 per year and give the county $6 million a year for the next 133 years with the $1.8 billion it will take to build the plant. And in that scenario, we wouldn’t have to deal with the 5.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, thousands of tons of other air pollutants & dozens of pounds of mercury the plant will release.

All in all, a terrible deal for Virginia’s economy & environment.

  • Rockingham County is taking steps towards welcoming wind power.


    governor made THIS stupid deal???

  • robsmithiii

    is that this is coming even after the recent VCERC study suggesting that it is far cheaper to create a larger offshore wind project with as much output as a brand new coal mega-plant.

    I understand that the eggs are all in one basket in Virginia and it would be a difficult move to abandon trains and coalfields but one has to wonder when the switch to something financially and environmentally more viable will come into reality.

    As an aside, I’m glad the Virginia LCV is focusing on more economics/jobs factors this legislative Session instead of strictly environmental arguments such as what was pursued last year with the “Streamsaver” bill (which I helped with for Ticer).