Today Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) member-owners appeared at the electric cooperative’s annual meeting with a clear message: put energy efficiency measures before dangerous new coal-fired power generation.
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), a wholesale power supplier to REC and the other ten locally owned and controlled electric cooperatives who jointly own it, is proposing to build a 1,500-megawatt, $6 billion power plant in Surry County, which would be the largest single coal-fired power plant in the state. If constructed, the ODEC coal plant, dubbed “Cypress Creek Power Station,” would be located in close proximity to the Chesapeake Bay. The plant would emit 118 pounds of mercury, 920 pounds of lead and 11.6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to ODEC’s own analysis.
“Aside from the obvious environmental and public health issues associated with it, a new coal plant is not needed,” explained Seth Heald, REC member-owner, who attended the annual meeting. “I came to ask the REC board to make effective energy efficiency programs REC’s top priority. Planning to rely on coal for decades makes no sense. Energy efficiency is the cleanest, cheapest, and fastest way for Virginia to meet its energy demands.”
REC members also expressed concern that the REC board was not adequately informing members about a project that would likely cost each member household $8,000 to $13,000 over the life of the plant.
“We have spoken to thousands of people about this expensive coal plant, but very few even know about it,” said Snow Fielding of Millwood. “Members have been shocked to find out that more than $30 million has already been spent on an environmentally-destructive project that isn’t even necessary to keep the lights on.”
An independent analysis conducted in September 2008 by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that Virginia could essentially flatten its electricity consumption until 2025 by investing in cost-effective efficiency measures available today. Under this scenario, power plants like the one proposed for the Hampton Roads area would not be needed.
“It’s really worrisome that REC would even consider saddling its member-owners with a heavy financial burden for the next 45 years for a project that would serve little purpose but to hurt Virginia’s air quality, emit toxic mercury right near the Chesapeake Bay and significantly increase the commonwealth’s carbon emissions contributing to climate change,” said Keith Thirion from Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “It’s just not worth it.”
For more information, visit http://www.abetterrec.com.