The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a legislative amendment to extend the life of a Southwest Virginia power plant.
The House voted 88-8 to reject a Senate substitute version of House Bill 1526 — the Virginia Clean Economy Act. As written, the bill would force the shutdown of all coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants in the state. It would force the Dominion Energy hybrid energy center in Wise County, which opened in 2012, to close by 2030.
The substitute version approved last week by the Virginia Senate included an amendment by Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Lebanon, to allow the plant to remain open until 2050.
The Senate is expected to again take up the bill Wednesday before it goes to a conference committee along with its counterpart legislation, Senate Bill 851.
“It will go back to the Senate, and they can either insist on the amendments or strike them from the bill,” according to state Del. Will Wampler, R-Abingdon.
Chafin successfully argued in the Senate last week the Virginia City plant — which burns coal, waste coal and biomass — is responsible for cleaning up more than 3.5 million tons of waste coal that was historically been dumped across the region due to its poor quality.
Senators last week approved the amendment 23-17.
A Dominion Energy official said the company is working to keep the $2 billion facility open.
“VCHEC plays a vital role in the region and to the reliability of the electric grid in Virginia,” William Murray, Dominion Energy senior vice president of corporate affairs, said in a written statement. “We have always supported examining carbon capture at VCHEC, as the plant was designed to accommodate this technology. Effective carbon capture would preserve the long term future of the plant. Even without carbon capture, it generally makes sense for coal plants to retire in the order constructed. VCHEC is the newest plant and therefore it should stay open the longest.”
The plant is heralded as the cleanest burning facility of its kind in North America. It provides power for 150,000 homes and generated about 500 jobs both at the facility and for related businesses. It also contributes significant revenues to Wise County and the town of St. Paul.