Dominion Virginia Power on Friday announced it would convert three 63-MW Virginia coal-fired peaking plants to biomass. The Dominion subsidiary said that while the switch would provide a boost to the local economy, it would also reduce nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and particulate emissions to “meet stringent new emission standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
The power stations in Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton County are identical and all went into operation in 1992. If plans are approved by local governments and Virginia regulators, these plants could begin burning biomass in 2013. After their conversion, the plants would burn “wood slash” (which is typically timber left on the ground after logging operations are completed) and have a capacity of 50 MW each.
The conversions are expected to “provide environmental and customer benefits and generate up to $350 million for their local economies over the next 30 years,” Dominion said. The plans would also help the company meet the state’s voluntary renewables standard, which calls for 15% of the company’s generation to be from renewables by 2025. At the end of 2010, the company was sourcing 4% of its power from renewables.
The EPA recently proposed new “toxic air” rules to replace the Clean Air Mercury Rule. They could require new and existing coal- and oil-fired plants to install pollution controls to curb mercury emissions.
Sources: POWERnews, Dominion