Altavista Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Altavista Power Station is a coal-fired power station owned and operated by Dominion near Altavista, Virginia.

The plant was converted from burning coal to biomass in 2013.

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Conversion to biomass

In Feb. 2011, Dominion Virginia Power said it could reopen its 63 MW Altavista Power Station as a biomass electricity plant by 2013, and is starting the approval process. 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. If the town of Altavista grants Dominion’s special use permit request, the company said it will seek a new air permit and approval from the State Corporation Commission.[1]

In April 2011, Dominion Resources announced that its subsidiary Dominion Virginia Power, has decided use biomass instead of coal in three of its power stations: Altavista Power Station, Hopewell Power Station and Southampton Power Station. The plants will mainly use waste wood left from timbering operations as a source of fuel. If approved by the local authority and the regulators will begin production from the converted units in 2013. The units can presently produce 63 megawatts (MW) power each and are only used when demand is at its peak. After conversion, these units will produce 50 MW each.[2]

Plant Data

  • Owner: Dominion Virginia Power
  • Parent Company: Dominion
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 71.1 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: 71.1 MW (1992)
  • Location: 104 Wood Ln., Altavista, VA 24517
  • GPS Coordinates: 37.118481, -79.273027
  • Electricity Production: 347,843 MWh (2005)
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:

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.[3] 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.[4]

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

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