Weigh in on Courtland power plant

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2012

COURTLAND—A public hearing on Dominion Power’s plan to convert its Courtland power plant from coal to wood-fueled will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, April 16, at Paul D. Camp Community College.

Assuming there isn’t much opposition, the permit would be issued within 45 days, allowing construction to begin, said Cathy Francis, senior program support technician with the state Department of Environmental Quality’s Tidewater Region.

“We have to hold a public hearing for a major modification to the permit,” Francis said. “After the hearing, you have to have 45 days and then the permit is issued.”

Dominion Power has said it would start construction on the $45 million conversion later this year with operations beginning about nine months later. About 50 construction workers will be needed during the conversion process.

Dominion Power will have to pay the county $37,500 for the building permit for the conversion, said John Jenkins, code services specialist for the county.

There will be additional fees for erosion sediment control and plan reviews, Jenkins said.

Although the power plant is located in an Enterprise Zone, which offers financial incentives to companies for building, Dominion Power is not expected to be offered benefits because no new jobs will be created, Jenkins said.

The plant’s conversion will retain the 30 jobs at the plant on General Thomas Highway.

The conversion also will create 100 jobs in the forestry and trucking industries. The power plant is expected to need 80 to 90 deliveries of wood products daily and up to 125 at times.

The plant currently is on 24 acres at the end of Shady Brook Trail. Dominion has a lease with an option to purchase a neighboring 67 acres from the heirs of Bessie Nora Edwards for the expansion.

In addition, the conversion will generate $808,000 in property taxes for the county, up from $520,000 annually.

If 25 or more people oppose the project during the hearing, that could delay the start of construction, Francis said.