Press Release | March 31, 2008

Virginia State Corporation Commission rules on Dominion’s proposed coal-fired power plant in Wise County

On July 13, 2007, Dominion Power applied to the State Corporation Commission for approval of a coal-fired power plant in Wise County it promised would be “carbon capture compatible.” Today, the SCC approved construction of what it termed “a ‘conventional coal’ facility.” This confirms what the project’s opponents have been saying all along – that Dominion has no plan to capture the estimated 5.4 million tons of global warming pollution the plant would emit every year.

“We will continue to make the case that a dirty, old-style conventional coal plant – without any plan for future carbon capture – does not represent a smart way forward to meet Virginia’s future energy needs,” said Cale Jaffe, SELC Staff Attorney. SELC represented a coalition of groups opposed to the plant in proceedings before the SCC. “As our evidence to the commission has proven, Dominion has no plan to capture carbon, despite what it says in its radio and print ads and on its website.”

In a finding issued today, the SCC found that not a penny of the $1.8 billion that Dominion proposes to spend on the plant would be for “recovery of any costs associated with future retrofitting, or other future modifications to, the Coal Plant to make it carbon capture compatible.”

“Of the nearly $2 billion of its customers’ money that Dominion would spend, not one dime would go toward doing anything to address the plant’s global warming pollution,” Jaffe said.

The SCC made note of evidence presented by environmental advocates on the exorbitant cost overruns of Dominion’s proposal: “[W]e do not find that it is reasonable or prudent for the Company to incur any amount of costs above the cost estimates that comprise the projected level of $1.8 billion,” the SCC stated in its ruling. “We cannot approve in essence a blank check for Virginia Power to build the Coal Plant at any cost …” (emphasis in original).

Dominion still must get two permits pending before the State Air Pollution Control Board before it can begin construction on the proposed plant. SELC and other opponents have argued to the air board that the plant as proposed would violate federal health and air quality standards under the Clean Air Act, and that Dominion’s permit applications must be rejected.

By statute, appeals of the State Corporation Commission’s ruling may be made directly to the Supreme Court of Virginia. SELC and other opponents are considering all legal options and will continue to support progressive, clean energy solutions over outdated, conventional coal.

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