Gas-fired power plant draws opposition from Chesterfield residents

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A plan to bring a fossil fuel-powered plant to Chesterfield County is getting pushback from some residents.

Representatives of Dominion Energy met with residents and several environmental activists last week to answer questions and address concerns about the proposal.

Residents said they’re worried that the plant would bring another major pollution source to the same area where a recently shuttered coal plant left behind large piles of toxic coal ash. Nicole Martin, who lives in the county’s Bermuda district and is the president of the county’s NAACP, attended the meeting to voice her disapproval of the proposed project.

“Why would they want to build that gas plant knowing there’s going to be tons of gas emissions going into the environment? This year alone, we’ve seen record temperatures over 100 right here in Virginia. That’s part of the problem,” she said.

Martin said the proposed site is near the Dutch Gap reservoir and is within a two-mile radius of homes and Bellwood Elementary School. She believes things will only get worse with project costs and energy bills potentially going up, too.

“It just doesn’t pass the common sense test, especially when there’s different alternatives out there to rely on for electricity,” she said.

Residents said they want Dominion to consider investing in cleaner infrastructure with renewable energy sources, like solar, wind or battery storage power stations. However, Dominion said those sources are not always reliable, depending on the location.

In a statement to 8News, a spokesperson for Dominion said, “That’s not going to keep the lights on 24/7, 365. We need a balanced energy mix, with renewables and always-ready natural gas working hand-in-hand. As customer demand nearly doubles over the next couple of decades, we’re going to need more reliable power on the hottest and coldest days, not less.”

Martin said she and other residents who oppose the plan are not giving up this fight.

“Big gas companies like Dominion continuing to pollute the environment and — not only pollute the environment but put our health at risk,” said Martin. “This is a marginalized community, It’s Hispanic and African American.”

For Dominion’s plan to move forward, they plan to request a conditional use permit from the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. Dominion hasn’t yet filed an application.

The company will also need an air permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and approval from the State Corporation Commission.

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