The Department of Energy has granted electrical distribution company PJM permission to keep two coal-fired Yorktown power plants operating, according to PJM spokesman Ray Dotter.
The company received an order Monday from the Department of Energy allowing the two Dominion-owned plants to operate on a “very limited basis as necessary if electrical loads are high,” Dotter said.
The plants were closed in April, in order 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.
An administrative order from the Environmental Protection Agency permitted the plants to operate only through April 15, 2017.
Dotter said the two coal-fired power units would be operated by Dominion Energy on an emergency basis to prevent “rolling blackouts.”
“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,” Bonita Billingsley Harris, Dominion’s media and community relations manager, previously said 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.
“It is our intention to continue moving forward as quickly as possible to build and energize the transmission project limiting the time these units will operate to ensure the best environmental outcome,” Harris said.
The order was handed down by the federal government just two months after the two Yorktown power units were taken offline due to federal regulations.
“It’s required to avoid power disruption that could disturb military bases, hospitals, and other critical infrastructure in the area,” Dotter said.
The Department of Energy will review its order to allow the operation of the Yorktown power units every 90 days, Dotter said.
The order can be extended indefinitely on a 90 day review basis — giving Dominion Energy enough time to build the Surry-Skiffes Creek Connector without any electrical service disruption, according to Dotter.
“Limited operations of the plants is not a long term solution,” Dotter said. “It’s not running them every day, it’s running them when there’s an emergency.”
WYDaily archives were used in this article. This story is breaking and will be updated as more information becomes available.