The International Biomass Magazine presented Dominion Virginia Power with its "Groundbreaker of the Year" award on April 9, 2013, for undertaking the conversion of three coal-fired units in Virginia to biomass fuel. (> View the article.) The conversion of the stations in Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
Ruth Prideaux, director-Generation Projects for uprates and conversions, accepted the award at the biomass industry’s annual conference in Minneapolis.
Dominion is converting three of its existing coal-fired power stations located in Virginia to 100% renewable biomass fuel. The three facilities are the Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton power stations. Altavista was placed into commercial operation following conversion on July 12, 2013, and the others are expected to be converted by the end of 2013. After convertion, each facility will produce up to 51 MW of electricity for our customers (total of 153 MW of biomass-fueled power).
The fuel will primarily be derived from waste wood typically left behind in the forests as part of the logging process for roundwood. Roundwood is harvested to make lumber, pulp & paper, or wood pellets. Waste wood is the smaller tree tops and branches left behind after roundwood harvesting.
The conversions from coal to biomass fuel will benefit Dominion’s customers, the environment and Virginia as a whole, and will produce renewable energy certificates that can be optimized for customer benefit. These projects were selected as a reasonable and cost-effective means of addressing customers’ growing need for reliable electric service, and they are expected to provide customer savings over their 25-year lives when compared to continued operation of the units on coal.
The biomass conversions will also have numerous benefits to Virginia’s environment, including reductions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and mercury compared to continued coal operations, and they will meet all of EPA’s existing or proposed regulations.
The construction and operation of the biomass faculties promote economic development and enhance employment within Virginia, including jobs during their construction period and the addition of approximately 300 jobs for logging, chipping and hauling of the biomass fuel to the three facilities.
Dominion filed applications with the Virginia State Corporation Commission on June 27, 2011 seeking approval to construct and operate these conversions to utilize 100% biomass fuel. On March 16, 2012, Dominion Virginia Power received approval from the SCC.