Mile-Long Petition Opposes Dominion Coal Plant in Virginia

RICHMOND, Virginia, May 9, 2008 (ENS) – Dominion Power proposes building a coal-fired power plant in Wise County, Virginia, but many Virginians oppose the facility because of the climate-warming greenhouse gases it would produce.

So many Virginians want to block the power plant that their 42,400 signatures fill rolls of paper a mile long displayed Thursday by the Wise Energy for Virginia coalition at a noon rally in Richmond.

The event in Kanawha Plaza drew more than 100 people, who were given green bandanas to wear in a show of unity. The organizers draped the petition around the park. The 53 rolls, each 100 feet long, cover the 5,280 feet in one mile.

After a brief press conference, members of the coalition gathered up the petition and presented it to a Dominion representative.

Today, the mile-long petition will be presented to company executives at Dominion’s annual shareholder meeting in Chicago.

The proposed 585 megawatt plant is designed with conventional technology and would emit up to 5.4 million tons of greenhouse gases each year. At that level, critics say, the plant would increase by almost 15 percent Virginia’s entire output of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, putting Virginia ahead of California with five times Virginia’s population.

“Of the $1.8 billion cost to build this coal plant, not one penny will do anything to reduce the 5.4 million tons of global warming pollution it would emit every year – and Dominion’s shareholders and customers will be left holding the bag,” said Cale Jaffe, staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The plant also would emit high levels of mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particle dust, the critics say.

They also are concerned that the increased demand for coal to burn in the Dominion plant will increase the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in Wise County and elsewhere in southwest Virginia.

They are urging the company to drop the project and instead invest in energy efficiency and other clean sources of power.

“Dominion spends millions and millions of dollars on political contributions, lobbyists, PR, and on misleading advertisements in an effort to convince the public that they are good stewards of Virginia’s air, soil and water,” said Steve Calos, Virginia director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Let’s get Dominion to spend much less money on their lobbying and advertising campaigns and more on conservation and clean energy.”

Dominion is moving into renewable energy. On April 21, Dominion and BP Alternative Energy North America Inc. announced that they have entered into an agreement to jointly develop, own and operate wind energy projects in Virginia. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said on April 21, “Today’s announcement is another important step in continuing to grow Dominion’s portfolio of renewable energy projects – which include more than 750 megawatts of wind in operation or under development.”

This includes more than 750 megawatts of wind energy: 325 megawatts from Fowler Ridge, 132 megawatts from a joint development with Shell WindEnergy in Grant County, West Virginia, and 300 megawatts from Dominion’s Prairie Fork Wind Farm in central Illinois.

“We are committed to meeting Virginia’s goal of 12 percent of base-year electricity sales from renewable energy sources by 2022. We also plan to achieve North Carolina’s goal of 12.5 percent from renewable energy sources and energy efficiency by 2021,” Farrell said.

Dominion is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of 26,500 megawatts of generation. The company serves retail energy customers in 11 states.

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