Charles City leaders address concerns about emissions from proposed power plant
A letter circulated via social media about a proposed power plant facility’s construction in Charles City garnered concern from citizens at Tuesday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Seven individuals spoke about the Chickahominy Power Plant scheduled to begin construction in the Roxbury area of the county, with many commenting that they did not know about the project.
A letter addressed to a local church from environmentalist and VCU professor Beth Kreydatus reached a local church in the county. The letter said that the Chickahominy Power Plant, which is one of two plants that is proposed to undergo construction, will emit several hazardous pollutants. The letter continues by saying the permitting process was a little rushed. The letter also included a chart that presented the amount of pollution to the air that could result with the construction of the power plant.
The letter made its round on social media, leading to a meeting at the Charles City Library that was hosted by the environmental group Mothers Out Front. After dialogue from that exchanged, some citizens attended the Air Board meeting held the next day. The Air Board is one of the entities that has to approve the construction. The committee approved the plan for the Chickahominy Power Plant 6-1 but added more stringent regulations for the plant.
Citizens sought answers at Tuesday night’s board meet on not only the plant, but the process of public notification. Many who spoke were concerned about the time frame that they learned about the plant.
“My biggest concern was not getting a notification,” said Wanda Roberts. “I am disappointed that I wasn’t aware of it.
“You all have known about this since 2015 but I only have known about this since last week,” she concluded.
“We are concerned that we are just receiving information like this about the power plant,” said La’Veesha Rollins, who spoke on behalf of Cedar Grove Baptist Church. “From the research, these emissions will affect everyone within a five-mile radius.
“We want to know if this will affect property values and if we will receive a depreciation credit as we did for the landfill,” she concluded.
More citizens commented about not receiving notification through the mail and if proper protocol was followed with the process.
During the board directive portion of the agenda, District 2 representative Bill Coada responded to concerns with a 20-minute presentation.
“Right now it’s a possibility that we may have two power plants,” he said. “But we have been notifying the public about this.”
The District 2 representative began with a slideshow depicting four articles published by The Chronicle on the plant, with the oldest dated June 18, 2015. He continued by presenting public hearings published in newspapers at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016.
“The land use must meet approval from all of these organizations,” Coada said, referring to the process it took for the Chickahominy Power Plant to gain consideration for construction. “VDEQ (Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality) has to conduct an air quality study that has to meet rigorous criteria.”
Coada moved on to presenting minutes from Charles City’s Planning Commission meeting that approved the project with an 8-0 vote, with the idea that the county will be well-positioned to create a strong energy sector. The representative then commented on the circulated letter that was posted on social media.
“What the report online did not say was that those numbers for each of the categories were the max allowed and not how much will be emitted,” Coada continued as he showed video footage of a plant that he toured Monday morning in Greensville County. “As you can see, there is zero emissions you can see by the naked eye.
“There has been a lot of misinformation that has been spread through our community,” he said as he wrapped up his comments. “I strongly suggest that you all take a tour to see what one of these plants will look like in Charles City.”
A county-sponsored trip to the Greensville facility was made available to citizens after the meeting. Of the 40 slots available for the tour, 32 people have signed up.
The Chickahominy Power plant is the bigger of two plants proposed for the county. C4GT, the company building the smaller plant, is expected to begin construction of a 1,060-megawatt natural gas facility later this year with completion expected in 2021. If both plants are constructed, it is expected to generate anywhere from $3-6 million a year for the county.