VA Environmental Groups Wary of Proposed Gas Power Plant
Friday, August 11, 2023
A proposed Dominion Energy power plant has Virginia environmental groups in an uproar.
The Chesterfield Energy Reliability Center would be a gas-powered plant near the James River. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2025, with the plant opening in 2027.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act calls for Dominion to be using 100% renewable electricity by 2045.
Cale Jaffe, director of the environmental law and community engagement clinic at the University of Virginia, described problems he believes could arise from Dominion going forward with development of the plant.
"One possibility, that we're going to retire this plant halfway through its life at an exorbitant cost," Jaffe outlined. "The other possibility is Dominion is not planning to meet the Virginia Clean Economy Act target to retire all of its fossil generation in the Commonwealth by 2045."
Dominion countered the plant would be used to provide support during busier times of year, powering 250,000 homes at peak output. The company pointed out the plant aligns with Gov. Glenn Youngkin's energy plan, which involves using a mix of power sources ranging from renewables to natural gas, nuclear and biomass.
Groups backing cleaner energy options said there are plenty of options to fill the role of the Chesterfield plant.
Gustavo Angeles, environmental justice program manager for the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, said offshore wind could be a solution.
"The offshore wind also has huge potential," Angeles argued. "We'll start seeing the developments now and more industry will come in the upcoming years. But this is the type of energy that we need to start looking for, that it will be reliable, and there is plenty on Earth."
The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Farm will provide the state with enough electricity to power 660,000 homes using a projected 10 gigawatts. A 2021 report found Virginia has the potential to create more than 220,000 terawatts of offshore wind by 2050.
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