Construction of a coal-fired power plant less than 25 miles from the College of William and Mary has been postponed 18 to 24 months due to slowing growth in demand for electricity.
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative had projected that demand for growth in the region would necessitate a power plant in either Surry or Sussex Counties. ODEC has spent over $20 million on the project so far, ODEC spokesman Jeb Hockman said.
“Even though our growth has dropped from 4 percent to 2.1, 2.3 percent … we’re going to continue, just at a slower pace,” he said.
Cypress Creek Power Station is expected to be built on a 1600-acre parcel in Dendron, Va., with an alternate site in Sussex County. The Daily Press reported that the proposed plant has embroiled the small town in controversy, with environmental advocates opposing what would be the largest coal-fired plant in Virginia.
The station was previously expected to be completed and generating energy by 2016. The Daily Press has reported that date has been pushed back to 2020.
“We had a permit that had to be refiled, but that was because … the notifications didn’t get done to do a hearing. So, between [the Department of Environmental Quality] and us, we decided to start again,” Hockman said.
ODEC has already received zoning approval for the plant from Dendron’s city council.
Local environmental groups, including the Student Environmental Action Coalition, have opposed the station. SEAC organized to notify Surry County residents in Feb. 2009.
Wise Energy for Virginia issued a press release Wednesday lauding ODEC’s decision to postpone its permit process.
“We’re happy about this because it draws out the process with ODEC,” SEAC member David Theurer ’11 said. “Public outcry has definitely played a role in this.”
Theurer added that ODEC’s reasoning behind the postponement appears to contradict the need for a plant. Although demand for energy has grown, it has done so at a slower rate than was expected.
Hockman said that while opponents of the plan have been vocal, polls conducted by ODEC have indicated support for the power plant in the local community.
The Army Corps of Engineers will conduct an Environmental Impact Study to assess the proposed plant’s impact on the local environment.
“The EIS process is on track and there is no delay,” Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Pam Spaugy said.