By Peter Galuszka
Despite its recent advertising campaign rebranding itself as a “green” utility, Dominion Energy is planning to build four natural gas “peaking units” costing $600 million at its Chesterfield County generating station.
The utility filed for a permit for the State Air Pollution Control Board, according to the Chesterfield Observer.
The gas plants would generate 1,000 megawatts of power to electrify 250,000 homes. One phase of the project would be completed in 2023 with another going online the following year. The units will be switched on when more power is needed.
Other than the Observer, there has been remarkably little news coverage of the plans. It could be that Dominion wanted to lie low after announcing plans to build 220 wind turbines off of the Virginia coast. Ads have touted Virginia as a “leader” nationally in renewable energy. Other announcements have involved solar farms and one to turn hog waste into methane.
The Chesterfield station at Dutch Gap has been coal-fired since the 1940s. It is Dominion’s largest coal-fired plant and one of the main air polluters in the state. Dominion shut down two coal-fired units this year and is considering closing two others, the Observer reports. The station also has major issues with removing coal ash from massive dumps not far from the James River.
Environmental groups have castigated the new gas plants as a “step in the wrong direction.” A recent S&P Global report was highly critical of Dominion for over estimating the growth of demand for power and for proposing unneeded gas plants. The utility’s huge $7 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline project has been stalled for about a year due to legal and regulatory issues.
This is not the only news about natural gas in Virginia. According to the Virginia Mercury, C4GT has applied to build 24 miles of pipeline, build two new compressor stations and expand its gas plant planned near Ladysmith.
That’s not far from the Chickahominy Power Station, a 1,600 megawatt gas plant planned by another firm a short distance away.