Altavista Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Altavista Power Station is an operating power station of at least 71-megawatts (MW) in Altavista, Virginia, United States.


Table 1: Project-level location details

Plant name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
Altavista Power Station Altavista, Virginia, United States 37.118481, -79.273027 (exact)

The map below shows the exact location of the power station.

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Unit-level coordinates (WGS 84):

  • Unit 1: 37.1187, -79.2736

Project Details

Table 2: Unit-level details

Unit name Status Fuel(s) Capacity (MW) Technology Start year Retired year
Unit 1 retired coal - unknown 71 subcritical 1992 2013
Unit 1 operating[1] bioenergy - wood & other biomass (solids), fossil gas - natural gas[1] 71[1] 1992[1]

Table 3: Unit-level ownership and operator details

Unit name Owner Operator
Unit 1 Virginia Electric and Power Co [100.0%]
Unit 1 Virginia Electric & Power CO[1] Virginia Electric & Power CO[1]

Unit-level fuel conversion details:

Unit 1: Converted from coal - unknown to bioenergy - wood & other biomass (solids), fossil gas - natural gas in 2013.


Conversion to biomass

In Feb. 2011, Dominion Virginia Power said it was starting the approval process to reopen its 63 MW Altavista Power Station as a biomass electricity plant by 2013. In Fall 2010, Dominion placed the Altavista station on “cold reserve status,” meaning it could be restarted if needed. At the time, Dominion was studying whether to convert the plant to a biomass facility. The study suggested that a biomass facility would be competitive economically against natural gas plants. The company said it would seek a new air permit and approval from the State Corporation Commission if the town of Altavista were to grant Dominion’s special use permit request.[2]

In April 2011, Dominion Resources announced that its subsidiary Dominion Virginia Power had decided to use biomass instead of coal in three of its power stations: Altavista Power Station, Hopewell Power Station and Southampton Power Station. The plan included using mainly waste wood left from timbering operations as a source of fuel. Before conversion, the units could produce 63 megawatts (MW) power each and were only used during peak demand. The capacity of the units post-conversion dropped to 50 MW each.[3] According to US EIA, Altavista power station still has a capacity of 71 MW.[4]

Emissions Data

  • CO2 Emissions: 221,855 tons (2005)
  • SO2 Emissions: 105 tons (2002)
  • SO2 Emissions per MWh: 0.60 lb/MWh
  • NOx Emissions: 9.55 tons (2002)
  • Mercury Emissions:

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Alvista Power Station

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[5] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[6]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Alvista Power Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 4 $31,000,000
Heart attacks 6 $680,000
Asthma attacks 66 $3,000
Hospital admissions 3 $72,000
Chronic bronchitis 2 $1,100,000
Asthma ER visits 3 $1,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory". US Energy Information Administration. 44655. Archived from the original on 44655. Retrieved 44655. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |access-date=, |date=, and |archive-date= (help)
  2. "Dominion could repower coal-fired unit to burn biomass" Power-Gen, Feb. 14, 2011.
  3. "Dominion Unit Converts to Biomass" Zack's, April 4, 2011.
  4. US Energy Information Administration (June 31, 2023). "Form EIA-860 detailed data (v2022 Early Release June, 2023): US Energy Information Administration". Retrieved July 6, 2023. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  6. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010

Additional data

To access additional data, including interactive maps of the power stations, downloadable datasets, and summary data, please visit the Global Bioenergy Power Tracker and the Global Coal Plant Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.