Friday, August 10, 2012

Cypress Creek coal-plant on hold... hopefully forever

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) announced in a press release that it has suspended plans for a coal-fired plant known as Cypress Creek near Dendron in Surry County, Virginia. The announcement is a victory for cleaner air and water, especially in the Tidewater region of the commonwealth. ODEC cited more stringent EPA regulations and market conditions as driving the decision, but a broad coalition of groups, including Wise Energy for Virginia, had built a strong case that harm to air quality and water quality from the 1,5000 megawatt plant would outweigh any possible benefits. Less demand for coal also means less destruction from mountaintop removal coal mining.

ODEC supplies power to 11 electric cooperatives including Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative. This bird attended the SVEC annual meeting where ODEC's CEO, Jack Reasor, said the company would not be moving forward on Cypress Creek and looking at alternative sources. Coarse Cracked Corn had previously commented on the $6 billion threat to the environment here and here and is proud to have been a tiny "cluck, cluck" in the coalition of groups, local governments, and citizens in Hampton Roads that helped to put this toxic stew on the back burner.

Those of us who care about the environment need to keep minding the kitchen because the toxic stew isn't totally off the stove - ODEC spokesman, David Huggins, indicated work may resume in a couple years depending on the outcome of an appeal to the Supreme Court over the EPA's carbon emissions standards.

Glen Besa, director of the Virginia Chapter Sierra Club, called on ODEC to invest in "efficiency, wind and solar power now." For its part, ODEC says it is exploring "alternative sources of power supply" but that could mean more natural gas and hydrofracking. As citizens we need to keep the pressure on the General Assembly and utilities to put in place meaningful laws and policies to encourage efficiency and renewable energy. Virginia could look to forward-looking states where a variety of incentives make solar and wind energy affordable now.

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