Home Energy and Environment Virginia Officials Must Begin Planning for Wise County, Other Power Plant Closures 

Virginia Officials Must Begin Planning for Wise County, Other Power Plant Closures 

This polluting boondoggle never should have been built; "remains online only because it is being financed through a largely hidden ratepayer subsidy to its owner"

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Check out the following press release from Appalachian Voices, on the new report, Virginia Coal Plant’s Future Isn’t Bright: Preparation for Transition Should Commence Now. Note that some of us (raises hand, lol) fought hard against this absurd power plant back when it was proposed, when for some really bad reasons, it was rammed through by the Kaine administration. Yes, this was one of three huge f’ups by the Kaine administration, the other two being the repeal of the estate tax and the “no-bid” contract for Bechtel on the Silver Line (note: there could be a fourth major f’up as well…can you guess what that might be? LOL). Oh well.

Anyway, the bottom line on the expensive, polluting Wise County coal-fired power plant is that it should never have been built, and today “is operating at marginal capacity and remains online only because it is being financed through a largely hidden ratepayer subsidy to its owner.” How much of a boondoggle is this plant? According to the new study, “the average Dominion residential customer in Virginia is now paying about $50 per year to subsidize the plant.” Meanwhile – and note that this was 100% foreseeable AND foreseen back in 2005, 2006, etc. – “Virginia is now mandating a hard pivot from traditional sources of electricity generation to solar, wind (mostly offshore), and utility-scale battery storage. That leaves VCHEC, which was already cost-ineffective, more untenable than ever.” The answer?

  • “Acknowledge the plant’s likely imminent retirement.
  • Begin planning how to mitigate the loss of jobs and tax revenue—and how best to remediate the site.
  • Demand full transparency and serious local reinvestment from Dominion.”

This really isn’t that difficult to understand, unless you’re trying *really* hard not to!

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Virginia officials must begin planning for Wise County, other power plant closures 

Today, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis released a report shedding light on Dominion Energy’s costly coal-fired Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise Co, Va., and its likely early closure. The report, entitled Virginia Coal Plant’s Future Isn’t Bright: Preparation for Transition Should Commence Now, finds that the plant operates significantly below its full capacity at a hefty cost to ratepayers, and that its closure will have significant economic impacts on the surrounding communities in Southwest Virginia. The power plant currently provides approximately $8.5 million in tax revenue to Wise County, and employs approximately 153 people.

“The ongoing energy transition happening in Virginia and beyond must be leveraged to provide significant re-investment in the people and communities that are most impacted,” said Chelsea Barnes, New Economy Program Manager at Appalachian Voices. “State and local officials need to plan now for the likely closure of the Wise County coal plant, and that has to start with transparency from Dominion and other utilities.”

In September, data presented during a State Corporation Commission proceeding regarding Dominion’s proposed Integrated Resource Plan revealed that Dominion has used the Wise County plant less and less over the years, even before the pandemic, and that it will cost ratepayers $472 million more than it’s worth as a resource over the next 10 years if it continues operation.

Appalachian Voices is supporting legislation in the 2021 Virginia General Assembly session to require transparency regarding expected power plant closures to local officials and state agencies to assist in planning for a just energy transition. The organization has had an office in Wise County since 2015 focused on supporting the coalfield counties in adapting to the declining coal industry.

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Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.

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