Questions still loom over proposed power plants in Charles City
Proposed power plants in Charles City has stirred up controversy in Charles City, specifically regarding notifications from the company and county leaders. Residents had the opportunity to inquire and question one company during a Jan. 28 public meeting at the high school.
Approximately 100 people were in attendance when Balico LLC, the company behind the Chickahominy Power Plant, was present to hear feedback from the public. Along with representatives of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the two-and-a-half-hour session consisted of a blend of mixed feedback from local residents.
After providing an overview of the public, the floor was open for questions and comments. Speaking as a citizen, Charles City supervisor and District 2 representative Bill Coada commented on the board’s decision to allow the project within the county borders.
“We support the permit because the proposed withdrawal is temporary and an alternate volume of water supply options for the proposed electric generated plant will be available to reduce reliance on groundwater,” Coada said. “The proposed natural gas plant will fuel electric power and will positively impact taxpayers in Charles City County.”
The supervisor added that Surry County has used funds from their plant to make their schoolteachers the highest paid in the region. Still, residents continued to express reservations over the project.
“This will be the biggest plant in Virginia and the fifth biggest in the country,” said Kay Ferguson, an environmentalist from Charlottesville. “What DEQ does not tell you is how they do not have nor will they have the means or leadership to monitor the compliance of the plant.
“That is what we experienced with the Atlantic Pipeline,” she added. “Those pipelines had over 500 violations of the water sediment and erosion control and most have been reported by citizens.”
Many speakers called out DEQ, requesting information about the project. When DEQ responded by saying that certain details were private, citizens begin to question the motives by the organization.
“We have freedom of speech and you didn’t like what the other speaker was saying and that bothers me,” said resident Royal Washington, pointing to how moderators deflected questions and comments. “That bothers me and puts me on a bad road automatically.
“Everybody has a right to their opinion and their facts because they know them,” he continued. “I don’t feel comfortable about that. What I have to do now is catch up and see what’s going on from both sides.
“But I have not heard anything on the other side that would tell me that you all are truthful,” Washington said to the panel as he wrapped up the comments. “That tells me that you possibly have something to hide, and if you have nothing to hide, then this county will not fight you.”
Another public forum is expected to take place this upcoming April according to DEQ. Citizens will have another opportunity to speak on the issue.