Virginia biomass power plant gains approval

By Anna Austin | May 02, 2011

The Virginia State Corporation Commission has granted approval to Novi Energy and the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative to build a 49.9-megawatt biomass power plant at the former site of a Georgia-Pacific particle board manufacturing facility in Halifax County, Va.

South Boston Energy LLC will be owned and operated by NOVEC and use nonslash wood waste, sawdust, wood shavings and residues from wood processing industries as fuel, from within a 75-mile radius of the plant, according to John Rainey, NOVEC senior energy contractors originator.

Unlike coal-fired plants that add sulfur and mercury to the air, this biomass plant will not emit any toxic elements, according to Rainey. He said the plant will be cooled with gray water from a nearby wastewater treatment facility in a closed loop, so it won’t use thousands of gallons of clean water every day from the local water authority.

Novi Energy and NOVEC have already begun preliminary development on the plant, which is estimated to cost $175 million. The companies estimate that about 300 to 400 jobs will be brought to the area during construction, with 23 to 35 operational jobs at the plant.

Preliminary construction has already begun, and NOVEC expects to qualify for the Recovery Act’s 1603 Program, which provides grant funding for 30 percent of the installed cost of eligible commercial energy projects.

The plant is slated to be operational in 2013.