Yorktown Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Yorktown Power Station was a 375.0-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by Dominion in Yorktown, Virginia.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Dominion Virginia Power
  • Parent Company: Dominion
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 375.0 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 187.5 MW (1957), Unit 2: 187.5 MW (1959)
  • Location: 1600 Waterview Rd., Yorktown, VA 23692
  • GPS Coordinates: 37.216775, -76.459307
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source:
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Both units retired in February 2019.

Unit Retirements

The plant's two units were shut down in February 2019.[1]

Retirement Background History

On Sept. 1, 2011, Dominion announced plans to close one of two coal-fired units at the Yorktown Power Station by 2015 and convert the second coal-fired unit to natural gas.[2] The units are not compatible with federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which were finalized in 2011.[3]

In 2015 Dominion received an exemption to operate the two coal units of Yorktown into the spring of 2016 and is hoping to win a final one-year extension into 2017.[4][5]

In April 2016 the coal plant received a one-year extension from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and is planned for closure in April 2017.[6]

The units were taken offline in April 2017. However, in June 2017 the plant received an emergency order by the Department of Energy to operate through Sep. 14, 2017 on a “very limited basis" as necessary if electrical loads are high over the summer. Approaching that date, PJM may request renewal of the extension order, and the Department of Energy will evaluate the request.[7]

On July 13, 2017, Sierra Club asked the Department of Energy to reconsider its decision regarding the Yorktown units. Sierra Club also noted that DOE’s order allowed PJM and Dominion to develop the plan for when the Yorktown units would need to run, known as a dispatch methodology, and said DOE was legally required to exercise more guidance. PJM’s request is that the plant be authorized to run as needed to support construction of a transmission project which Dominion has estimated could take 18-20 months. Because that operation is not authorized by DOE’s order, Sierra Club argues Dominion would be subject to enforcement action for violation of the Clean Air Act.[3]

In July 2018 Inside Climate News reported that "Yorktown is the only generating station in the country where power is being supplied by coal plants on an emergency basis to preserve the grid's reliability."[8]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 2,160,713 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 21,685 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 4,062 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 110 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Yorktown 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.[9] 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.[10]

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

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 32 $230,000,000
Heart attacks 50 $5,500,000
Asthma attacks 540 $28,000
Hospital admissions 25 $570,000
Chronic bronchitis 20 $8,800,000
Asthma ER visits 26 $10,000

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

Study finds dangerous level of hexavalent chromium at Dominion Yorktown coal waste site

The study "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash," released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011, reported elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, a highly potent cancer-causing chemical, at several coal ash sites in Virginia.[11] In all, the study cited 29 sites in 17 states where hexavalent chromium contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash as well as from studies by EarthJustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club.[12][13][14][15] It included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin.[11]

According to the report, hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was found at elevated levels at the following sites:[11]

  • Dominion's Yorktown Power Station unlined coal ash pond at 100 ppb (parts per billion) - 5,000 times the proposed California drinking water goals and above the federal drinking water standard.

A press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[16]

According to the report, the electric power industry is the leading source of chromium and chromium compounds released into the environment, representing 24 percent of releases by all industries in 2009.[11]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources


  1. "For decades, Yorktown's coal units helped keep the Peninsula’s lights on. Now they're powering down," Daily Press, Feb 27, 2019
  2. Dominion News Dominion Power Co., Sept. 1, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Dog Ate Dominion's (Reliability) Homework," Sierra Club, Aug 16, 2017
  4. "Dominion Virginia Power to close last unit at Yorktown," Daily Press, July 1, 2015
  5. Form EIA-860 Data - Schedule 3, Generator Data, US EIA, 2014
  6. "Dominion gets one-year extension for Yorktown plant," Daily Press, Apr 19, 2016
  7. Josh Reyes, "Yorktown power plant coal-burning units back online for emergencies," Daily Press, June 20, 2017
  8. John Cushman Jr., "Zombie Coal Plants Show Why Trump's Emergency Plan Is No Cure-All," Inside Climate News, July 9, 2018
  9. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  10. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  12. "Damage Case Report for Coal Combustion Wastes," August 2008
  13. U.S. EPA Proposed Coal Ash Rule, 75 Fed. Reg. 35128
  14. EarthJustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and Sierra Club, "In Harm's Way: Lack of Federal Coal Ash Regulations Endangers Americans and their Environment," August 2010
  15. EarthJustice and Environmental Integrity Project, "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," May 2010
  16. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer, Examiner.com, February 1, 2011.

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