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$320 million potential economic benefit for Southwest Virginia

2000+ jobs to Southwest Virginia during construction.

Dominion Energy is exploring the potential for building a hydro-electric pumped storage facility in Southwest Virginia. The project could generate thousands of construction jobs, as well as provide a major new source of local taxes for the region. The facility would store energy from traditional sources, such as Dominion Energy’s coal-fired Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County, as well as renewable ones.

Following the successful passage of legislation sponsored by Senator Ben Chafin and Delegates Terry Kilgore and Todd Pillion during the 2017 Virginia General Assembly, Governor McAuliffe approved state law which allows Virginia utilities to petition the State Corporation Commission to build pumped hydroelectric storage facilities in the Commonwealth. At least part of the energy used to power the facility must be generated by renewable resources.

How Does Pumped Hydroelectric Storage Work?

Pumped Hydroelectric Storage Facility

Graphic showing pumped hydroelectric storage facility

Pumped hydroelectric storage facilities work like a giant battery, storing energy for when it is needed most. During times of low energy demand, water is pumped to an upper reservoir using lower-cost electricity from the grid. When demand for energy is high, water is released to a lower reservoir through tunnels, turning the turbines which generate electricity. The “on-demand” nature of pumped-storage means it can be called upon quickly when needed. Pumped storage works together with generation sources like coal, natural gas and solar to provide balance and reliability for the energy grid.

Southwest Virginia Community Partnerships

Emergency Fuel Fund Assisted 683 Homes Since 2008
Food Banks 2 Million Meals Since 2008

Health Care 650 Individual Receive Health Care

Related Projects

Contact Us

Email: PoweringSWVA@dominionenergy.com

Media Inquiries: 804-771-6115

Landowner and General Inquiries:

  • 276-634-8248 (local)
  • 833-267-1393 (toll free)

Regulatory and Environmental Process

Proposed Timeline

  • 2017 - Submitted Preliminary Permit Application
    Engage with the Community
  • 2018 - Submit Preliminary Application Documents
    Begin Environmental & Engineering Studies
  • 2019 - Continue Environmental & Engineering Studies
    Meet with Stakeholders & Regulatory Agencies, File FERC applications

FAQs

What is a pumped hydroelectric storage facility?

Pumped hydroelectric storage facilities function as a giant battery, storing energy for when it is needed most. Specifically, pumped hydroelectric storage facilities store energy in the form of water, using an upper and a lower reservoir to create an elevation difference between the two bodies. During times of high demand on the grid, pumped hydroelectric storage produces electricity by releasing stored water from the upper reservoir into the lower, turning large turbines as it moves. During times of low demand on the grid (nights, weekends or a period of mild temperatures), water is pumped back up to the upper reservoir using lower-cost electricity from the grid (or renewable sources). There are two large pumped hydroelectric storage facilities in Virginia: Dominion Energy’s Bath County site and Smith Mountain Lake/Leesville Lake Complex.

Why is Dominion Energy interested in considering pumped hydroelectric storage in Southwest Virginia?

Pumped hydroelectric storage facilities, such as Dominion Energy’s Bath County Pumped Storage Station and the potential Tazewell Pumped Hydroelectric Project, are able to generate electricity in a manner of minutes. That’s increasingly important as more solar and wind generation is developed across the state. Solar and wind power can fluctuate throughout the day; Pumped storage and pumped hydroelectric facilities can help stabilize the grid as renewables come on and off line, ensuring reliability.

In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly recognized the value of a pumped hydroelectric storage project by passing legislation sponsored by members of the Southwest Virginia legislative delegation. The bills authorize electric utilities in Virginia to apply to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) for permission to construct pumped hydroelectric storage facilities in Virginia’s coalfield region. The bills further stipulated that at least part of the energy stored in such facilities must be generated by renewable resources. The legislation was approved by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and became law July 1, 2017.

Would a pumped hydroelectric storage facility replace energy generated from coal?

No, this kind of storage project supplements other generating sources. The Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (VCHEC) in Wise County, Virginia, serves our customers by burning coal and biomass around-the-clock, providing 24/7 generation. A pumped hydroelectric storage facility relies on electricity generated by coal, renewables or other energy sources to operate. It uses electricity from other sources during off-peak times to pump water to the upper reservoir. It then serves as a generator in times of peak demand that can quickly deliver electricity to the grid and help balance the fluctuating nature of renewable energy resources such as solar and wind. Think of the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center like an engine, and think of the pumped hydroelectric storage facility as a battery. Both are helpful to the overall electric system.
Question: When will landowners be contacted about interest in their property, potential sale or options?

Dominion Energy is continuing a feasibility assessment of the proposed Tazewell site. During this process, a company representative may contact you directly regarding access to your property to conduct survey and environmental studies. Dominion Energy is committed to keeping landowners informed about the FERC process, project developments, and potential project impacts.

Question: If my property was listed in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pre-application does it mean that Dominion Energy will construct a pumped hydroelectric storage facility on my property?

No. The development of the project is in the feasibility stages and the project’s final size and scope have not been determined.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of the preliminary application is not a conveyance of any property rights. Dominion Energy will have to seek the landowners’ permission for access to their property. Dominion Energy is sensitive to the needs and concerns of the homeowners in those areas listed and will make every effort to keep them informed and work with them throughout the process.

What process did Dominion Energy use to evaluate potential sites, and were there other sites being considered?

Dominion Energy engaged two consulting firms to assist in identifying potential locations within the seven-county coalfield region and the City of Norton. During this process, nearly 200 sites were initially identified for evaluation. Dominion Energy continued to further evaluate the sites, and narrowed down to a smaller number of sites based on the following criteria:
Impact on landowners

  • Environmental and cultural resources
  • Topographic relief
  • Suitable geology
  • Proximity to electric transmission
  • Water availability
  • Community interests
  • Economic considerations (including state and local)

How much water is needed for Dominion Energy’s proposed pumped hydroelectric storage facility in Tazewell County and where will it come from?

Dominion Energy continues to study possible water sources to initially fill and maintain the facility’s reservoirs. Approximately 6.5 billion gallons of water will be needed to initially fill the reservoirs, with a much smaller quantity needed to maintain water levels in the reservoirs. Dominion Energy’s feasibility studies include water sources from underground mines, groundwater, and regional surface water streams and rivers in the New River watershed. Dominion Energy is currently investigating the water quantity and feasibility of obtaining water from Wolf Creek near Rocky Gap, in Bland County, Virginia.

What environmental and resource studies are underway or planned for the proposed project?

Dominion Energy began environmental, cultural, and historical resource field studies on the project site in 2018 and will continue these studies during 2019 to support a Notice of Intent (NOI) and Pre-Application Document (PAD) filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in late 2019. Aquatic habitat, fish, and mussel surveys will be completed in the watershed streams on the proposed project site and related water sources. Continued studies in 2019 will include the potential water supply system for obtaining water from Wolf Creek near Rocky Gap.

How much water is needed for Dominion Energy’s proposed pumped hydroelectric storage facility in Tazewell County and where will it come from?

Dominion Energy continues to study possible water sources to initially fill and maintain the facility’s reservoirs. Approximately 6.5 billion gallons of water will be needed to initially fill the reservoirs, with a much smaller quantity needed to maintain water levels in the reservoirs. Dominion Energy’s feasibility studies include water sources from underground mines, groundwater, and regional surface water streams and rivers in the New River watershed. Dominion Energy is currently investigating the water quantity and feasibility of obtaining water from Wolf Creek near Rocky Gap, in Bland County, Virginia.

What environmental and resource studies are underway or planned for the proposed project?


Dominion Energy began environmental, cultural, and historical resource field studies on the project site in 2018 and will continue these studies during 2019 to support a Notice of Intent (NOI) and Pre-Application Document (PAD) filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in late 2019. Aquatic habitat, fish, and mussel surveys will be completed in the watershed streams on the proposed project site and related water sources. Continued studies in 2019 will include the potential water supply system for obtaining water from Wolf Creek near Rocky Gap.
If constructed, what effect would the construction of the facility have on job creation in Southwest Virginia?

A study by the consulting firm of Chmura Economics & Analytics indicated construction of the facility would create thousands of jobs in Southwest Virginia. Depending on the final size of the project, the Chmura study found development and construction could support more than 2,500 jobs in the region from 2017-2027. Almost 1,700 of those jobs would result from construction activity; the rest would be supported as the effect of spending on the project spreads throughout the regional economy. Additionally, the Chmura study found development and construction of the facility could generate as much as $481 million in new economic activity in Southwest Virginia from 2017-2027.

The project will also produce well-paying, full-time jobs once it begins operating. The Chmura study found operation of the facility would support creation of as many as 76 new jobs in Southwest Virginia starting in 2028. Of those, approximately 50 would be permanent workers at the station.

The Chmura study was commissioned by Dominion Energy.
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