Dominion Energy studying site for pumped hydro facility in Virginia

Dominion Energy has received approval from the Tazewell County Planning Commission to conduct bore drillings on a 4,100-acre site in Tazewell County, Va., U.S., as part of a study for a proposed US$2 billion pumped hydro storage plant.

The potential generating capacity of the facility has not been disclosed. The cost for the study is not immediately available, but the work is being conducted for Dominion by HDR Engineering, based in Charlotte N.C.

According to a report from SWVA Today, HDR will bore eight holes for exploration: six at 30 feet by 30 feet, one at 50 ft by 30 ft and one at 50 ft by 60 ft. Most of the holes will be 100- to 200-ft deep, but one hole will be bored to a depth of 1,000 ft.

Officials from HDR said the work should be completed by June and it is necessary for the needed geotechnical study that will be included in plant’s feasibility study should Dominion choose this site for the facility.

A study commissioned by Dominion from Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analyticsthat released in October 2017, in part, said, “…the power station would create nearly $320 million in total economic impact for Southwest Virginia. Construction of the facility would support 2,980 jobs in Virginia between 2017 and 2027, including 2,083 positions in the coalfield localities. The study also found that more than $7.7 million in new tax revenue would be created for the Commonwealth during this phase.”

In September 2017, HydroWorld.com reported Dominion Energy filed an application for a preliminary permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the Tazewell location, which is near East River Mountain.

Dominion is also considering building the facility at the abandoned Bullit Mine in Wise County.

The mine was identified as a potential location based on earlier research by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The mine was closed in 1997, and the site is flooded. A new facility could use the mine cavity as the lower reservoir. If this site was selected, Dominion Energy would file a preliminary permit application with FERC in 2018.

Dominion Energy operates the 3,003-MW Bath County Pumped Storage Station it jointly owns with First Energy Corp. The Bath County facility is the largest of its kind in the U.S. 

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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