Power plant applications OK’d

Published 10:38 am Saturday, February 6, 2010

On Monday night, the Dendron Town Council approved land use and zoning applications for the construction of a massive coal-fired power plant, and on Thursday night, Surry County officials followed suit, paving the way for environmental impact studies to begin.

“Without these changes in the uses and zoning, nothing could proceed as far as the long permitting and studies process with the federal and state agencies,” said Jeb Hockman, a spokesman for Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, the company that wants to build the proposed Cypress Creek Power Station. He called it “the start of a long process.”

The $6 billion proposed power plant straddles the Dendron town limits, so both the town and the county were required to approve applications. Environmental groups, like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, have argued that the plant will add harmful amounts of pollution to the air and local waterways and urged governing bodies to reject the applications.

“ODEC’s proposal will add unacceptable levels of pollution to near and distant lands and waters, affecting not only the immediate area around the plant but all of Hampton Roads and areas as far away as Richmond,” said Chris Moore, the foundation’s science advocate.

While the Surry County Board of Supervisors was holding its meeting and public hearing on the land use applications Thursday, the Board of Supervisors in neighboring Sussex County also approved land-use and zoning applications associated with the project. A site in Sussex County has been identified as an alternate, should the Dendron site be found unsuitable, according to ODEC officials.

Hockman said ODEC is “gratified and humbled by the votes of confidence” from the Dendron Town Council and the Boards of Supervisors in Surry and Sussex counties.

“The citizens of each of these localities can be proud of the thoughtful and measured actions of their elected officials who have worked diligently for almost two years on this issue and who carefully weighed all the information presented,” he said.

Last month, the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors voted to send letters to the chairman of the Surry County Board of Supervisors and the mayor of Dendron, urging them to carefully consider the proposed plant’s effects on the region.