Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Biomass power plant project takes next step in Halifax County

Comment:  Great, better than uranium mining but do not cut old growth forest!

By WSLS-TV Staff Reports
Published: November 22, 2010

HALIFAX COUNTY, VA --A former Georgia Pacific plant site is one-step closer to becoming the home of a new "green" power plant in Halifax County.

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) gave the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) and its development partner, NOVI Energy interim authority to start preliminary construction on a 49.95 megawatt biomass power plant, according to a news release. The plant would produce energy through "slash," which is wood waste found on the ground in the forest. Consultants estimate there an "abundance" of slash within a 75-mile radius of the proposed power plant.

The project is expected to cost $150 million, need between 300-400 workers to build, and up to 40 full-time employees to operate once completed. The companies estimate the plant will also create up to 150 indirect jobs, through harvesting wood chips in Halifax County and the Southern Virginia region.

NOVEC senior energy contracts originator John Rainey says the plan will be carbon neutral. Rainey adds the plant will use "gray water" from a wastewater treatment facility in a closed loop system, to avoid the use of clean water from local drinking water providers.

"This project will create a unique tie among the members of NOVEC, the residents of South Boston, and those of Halifax County -- a model that has potential for the rest of the Commonwealth. Right now it looks like a win-win-win for everyone." said Mike Dailey, NOVEC's vice president of Business Development and Energy Services, in the release.

NOVEC expects the biomass plant to supply up to 6.5% of its power requirements by 2014, which would be equal to the needs of about 10,000 customers according to Co-op President/CEO Stan Feuerberg. NOVEC serves more than 144,000 customers in northern Virginia.

To move the project forward, the SCC needs to approve South Boston Energy's application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, to allow NOVI Energy to oversee full construction of the plant.

"This announcement goes further to cement Halifax County as a significant player in solving the nation's energy needs", said Industrial Development Authority executive director Mike Sexton in the release. "With the presence of Clover Power station and the recently announced Dominion Power solar research project, added to today's announcement of the NOVEC project, Halifax County is uniquely positioned to be at the epicenter of power generation, distribution and transmission. And add to that the resources of the Riverstone Energy Center for research and development, the future continues to look bright for Halifax County to transform its economy by combining agri-business, energy generation, research and development and the jobs in advanced manufacturing that spin out of those R & D efforts," Sexton added in the release.

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