Dominion Virginia Power last week struck a deal with the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to close a 74-MW West Virginia coal-fired plant as part of plans to build a new 1,300-MW natural gas–fired power station in northwestern Virginia.

The closure of the North Branch Power Station in Bayard, W.Va., when the proposed Warren County Power Station near Front Royal begins commercial operations, is scheduled for late 2014 or early 2015. “The net result would be more electricity to serve Virginia’s growing needs and cleaner air in the region that includes the Shenandoah National Park,” the Virginia-based company said in a release.

The agreement, which is now part of the Virginia air permit application for the Warren County station, states that the mitigation plan for the station "consists of a combination of emission reduction credits and emission allowances … resulting in a net environmental benefit to park resources."

The deal is contingent upon the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s approval of the air permit for the proposed station, other regulatory approvals, and the construction and operation of the proposed station. Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality and the Air Pollution Control Board will also have to approve Dominion’s proposal.

The air board is expected to vote for the Warren County air permit at its Dec. 17 meeting. The company anticipates seeking permission from the Virginia State Corporation Commission next year to build the new power station.

“North Branch was put in cold reserve status in August of this year, meaning it is not currently generating electricity,” Dominion said. “Without this agreement, the station could be returned to service in a short time if needed. North Branch, which burns a mix of coal and waste coal to generate electricity, began commercial operation in 1992.” Dominion purchased the station in 1994.

Source: Dominion Virginia