Dominion Virginia Power plans to build a $1.1 billion, natural gas-fired power station in Brunswick County that will generate enough electricity to power 325,0000 homes.
Dominion President Thomas F. Farrell II announced the plan Tuesday alongside Gov. Robert F. McDonnell at a Capitol Square news conference.
The 1,300-megawatt station, which would need approval from state regulators, would be built on 205 acres on U.S. Route 58 east of Lawrenceville. Dominion hopes that it will be operational by the summer of 2016.
County officials traveled to Richmond for the announcement. The power station would be the largest economic development project in county history, creating at least 600 construction jobs and employing about 30 full-time workers once it is completed. Annual property taxes on the facility will be $3.5 million to $4 million, providing a sizeable boost to a county with revenues of about $45 million a year.
“I can’t begin to tell you what this means to our county,” said Joan Moore, executive director for the Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority.
The facility would replace coal-fired units at two eastern Virginia power stations that Dominion was already planning to phase out for economic reasons. McDonnell and Farrell said the gas-powered station would represent a shift toward clean energy.
But Beth Kemler, state director for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said the plant could damage the environment, particularly if the natural gas is extracted through fracking, a drilling method that involves blasting through rock with a mix of water and chemicals.
“Recent scientific evidence suggests that natural gas drilled through fracking may actually have a greater climate change impact than coal over its full life-cycle,” Kemler said in a prepared statement.