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Dominion Virginia Power has received permission to continue operating its two coal-burning plants at the Yorktown Power Station through next April, affording the energy company more time to secure approval for a proposed power line over the James River.
The plants will need to close for Dominion to comply with the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule, which is designed to reduce air chemical emissions at coal-fired power plants.
However, if they close before new power generation is online, customers can expect regular rolling blackouts during peak electricity demand, according to Dominion representatives.
The plants were operating under a one-year extension granted by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which allowed them to stay open through this April. An administrative order from the Environmental Protection Agency will permit the plants to operate through April 15, 2017.
“The action will help ensure electric service reliability for the Peninsula region while the company pursues approval to build the Surry-Skiffes Creek electric transmission line,” wrote Bonita Billingsley Harris, Dominion’s media and community relations manager, in an email to WYDaily.
The transmission line project includes the proposed Surry-Skiffes Creek 500 kilovolt (kV) line, the Skiffes Creek Switching Station, the Skiffes Creek-Whealton 230kV line and additional transmission facilities.
In December, the State Corporation Commission granted Dominion an extension to complete the project. It must now be online 20 months after Dominion receives a building permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In addition to the building permit, Dominion needs authorization by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and rezoning granted by the James City County Board of Supervisors for the Skiffes Creek Switching Station before it can begin construction.