Challenging the Greensville Power Station

Appalmad is working with the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club to prevent what would be the largest gas-fired power plant in Virginia: Dominion Power’s proposed Greensville Power Station. The 1,558-megawatt behemoth would lock Virginia’s ratepayers into decades of fossil fuel reliance and push off affordable clean energy options.

Too Great a Cost

At an estimated construction cost of $1.3 billion, the plant is a costly component of the multibillion-dollar spending spree proposed by the gas industry — a proposal that also includes numerous natural gas pipelines. More importantly, Greensville will be heavily dependent on a natural gas market that’s proven highly volatile and will, according to industry analysts, see a dramatic rise in prices sooner than previously anticipated. If the proposal moves forward, Virginians will be obligated to foot the bill for these rising fuel costs, even if cheaper, cleaner alternatives exist.

The Greensville station comes with heavy environmental costs as well. It would burn natural gas piped in from outside of Virginia. Much of this gas will come from fracking operations destroying communities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The considerable energy demand from the plant would also intensify the pressure to build destructive projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, planned to slash through hundreds of acres of prime forest and agricultural land in Virginia and West Virginia.

And building the Greensville station would do nothing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Despite its reputation as a cleaner alternative to coal, natural gas is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, spewing tens of billions of cubic feet of methane into the atmosphere through leaks, intentional venting, and burning. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than even carbon dioxide.

Stopping Progress

In fact, building the station and the associated infrastructure may even increase our greenhouse gas emissions over the long-term because it would crowd out investment in affordable clean energy sources.

The decline of coal has opened up opportunities for alternative energy development in our region. But committing such vast resources to fossil fuels — and obligating ratepayers to foot the bill—makes it that much harder to shift investment to clean, renewable energy sources.

And the power station’s financial plan requires it operate as a “base load” energy source, meaning it would run 24/7, rather than merely supplementing energy needs at peak hours. This scheme necessarily crowds other energy options out of the marketplace.

Rather than doubling down on fossil fuels, new energy investments should go to clean, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The technology exists and is improving every day. But that investment won’t happen if fossil fuel interests build out an expensive slate of natural gas infrastructure.

This power plant represents a key decision point: Either Virginia decides to invest in clean, renewables, or it maintains its dependence on polluting fossil fuels, propelling the long-term catastrophe of climate change.

Appalmad will work hard with our partners to ensure that Virginia makes the right decision.