A proposed pumped hydroelectric storage power station in Southwest Virginia would bring approximately $576 million in economic benefits to the state — half of it to the coalfields region, Dominion Energy announced Thursday.
The figures were revealed in a new study conducted by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics and commissioned by Dominion.
The report also found that the project would support nearly 3,000 Virginia jobs during development and construction, including more than 2,000 in the coalfield region. Once in operation, the facility would produce about $12 million annually in tax revenue for local governments in Southwest Virginia, according to Chmura.
“We are very excited about the prospect of bringing another major capital investment to the coalfield region of Southwest Virginia,” said Mark Mitchell, vice president of generation construction. “The entire grid system will benefit from having this new generation once it comes online, and the local area will benefit from the jobs and economic benefits that will come from it.”
Dominion is considering two sites, an abandoned mine in Wise County and a 4,100-acre site in Tazewell County.
The proposed facility comes as a result of legislation approved in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly that encourages development of pumped storage technology in the region.
State Del. Todd Pillion, R-Abingdon, said the study results demonstrate the significance a pumped storage facility could mean for the region.
“… Southwest Virginia is ready for a project that can bring an infusion of economic growth and opportunity to the region. Our delegation appreciates Dominion’s commitment to the coalfields as they continue to assess the feasibility of potential sites for this project.”
Pumped hydropower stations store energy in the form of water. When electricity is in high demand, water is released from an upper to a lower reservoir through tunnels, spinning turbines to produce electricity. At times when energy demand is low, the water is pumped back into the upper reservoir to be stored until additional generation may be needed.
The actual size and cost of the proposed facility have not been determined. The study was based on the project costing $2 billion, Dominion said.
Dominion filed a preliminary permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 6, identifying the potential site in Tazewell County. Virginia Tech is studying the feasibility of using the former mine site in Wise County.