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Chesterfield Residents Overwhelm Dominion Air Permit Briefing, Highlight Significant Concerns About New Gas-Fired Power Plant

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From Clean Virginia:

Chesterfield Residents Overwhelm Dominion Air Permit Briefing
Opponents of proposed plant highlight significant concerns about new gas plant

CHESTER, Va. — On November 16th, more than 60 Chesterfield residents overwhelmed a Dominion Energy-led hearing on the “Chesterfield Energy Reliability Center,” a 1,000-megawatt methane-gas power plant Dominion is proposing to build in Chesterfield County.

“I’d rather sit in the dark than breathe poison,” said Frances Broaddus-Crutchfield, a concerned community member, following a presentation from Dominion on the air pollutants the plant is expected to generate.

Residents refused to separate into smaller groups at Dominion’s request and expressed anger at the company’s intention to site another major pollution source in the same area as a recently shuttered coal plant, leaving large piles of toxic coal ash in the area. Community dissent forced a change in the meeting format so that all attendees could hear each other’s questions and Dominion’s responses.

“My child has asthma,” said Lindsey Dougherty, a resident who lives near the proposed site of the plant. “As a parent of a child who is already negatively impacted, this is just going to add to it. We are going to bear 100 percent of the negative health impacts and the costs as ratepayers. I’m very interested to know if I’m going to be reaping 100 percent of the benefit.”

So you don’t know how much the plant is going to cost but you know this is the best plan forward?” said Traci Franssen, a resident of the Matoaca district, after Dominion stated they did not have a current estimate for the plant’s construction or its impact on customer electric bills.

Local residents expressed serious concerns about a significant new source of pollution for the area and the utility’s failure to consider other ways to meet energy demand, such as solar, wind or energy efficiency. The proposed facility could worsen the impacts of the area’s legacy pollution and potentially increase energy bills for Dominion customers, as the plant’s cost is estimated to be upwards of $600 million based on 2019 estimates.

“We know what these harmful toxins have done to us in the past,” said Nicole Martin, President of the Chesterfield NAACP and Bermuda district resident, during the community press conference preceeding Dominion’s briefing. “If you know better, do better … Dominion Energy not only has that fiscal responsibility to residents of Chesterfield County but also the social responsibility.”

“Have you considered an option that would be clean energy that would not put toxins into the air that would be working 100 percent of the time to generate power for us for this site?” asked Aliya Farooq, a founding board member of Friends of Chesterfield, a resident group formed to oppose the plant.

The plant represents Dominion’s first proposal for a new fossil fuel-fired facility after the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act in 2020. The plant would require a conditional use permit from the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, in addition to an air permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and approval from the State Corporation Commission.

Portions of the Dominion briefing recording are viewable here and here.

The community press conference recording is viewable via its livestream broadcast.

Chesterfield County residents ask questions during Dominion’s public briefing on its air pollution permit to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

 

 

Nicole Martin, President of the Chesterfield NAACP, speaks to residents at a community press conference preceding the Dominion hearing.

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Clean Virginia is a 501(c)4 independent advocacy organization with an associated Political Action Committee, Clean Virginia Fund. The Clean Virginia team is motivated by a vision of Virginia in which power is distributed more equitably so that all Virginians benefit from a government and energy system that prioritizes people and the planet over corporate monopoly profit.

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