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Scenario in study for pumped storage hydropower in Virginia indicates estimated cost at US$2 billion

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Dominion Energy, which currently manages the largest pumped storage hydroelectric project in the U.S., announced results from a study it commissioned on building a proposed pumped storage hydropower facility in the coalfield region of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Virginia is located in the American Northeast, and the coalfield localities within the state include the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, Wise and the city of Norton.

The actual size and cost of the proposed facility have not yet been determined. But, according to information from Dominion Energy this week, the study it commissioned from Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics indicates a scenario in which planning and construction costs of a pumped-storage project were estimated at US$2 billion.

The study also said, “…the power station would create nearly $320 million in total economic impact for Southwest Virginia. Construction of the facility would support 2,980 jobs in Virginia between 2017 and 2027, including 2,083 positions in the coalfield localities. The study also found that more than $7.7 million in new tax revenue would be created for the Commonwealth during this phase.”

The proposed facility comes as a result of legislation passed by the 2017 Virginia General Assembly, which encourages the development of pumped storage technology in the region.

“We are very excited about the prospect of bringing another major capital investment to the coalfield region of Southwest Virginia,” said Mark Mitchell, Dominion Energy vice president of generation construction. “The entire grid system will benefit from having this new generation once it comes online, and the local area will benefit from the jobs and economic benefits that will come from it.”

On Sept. 6, Dominion Energy filed a Preliminary Permit Application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, identifying a potential 4,100-acre project site in Tazewell County. The company has also contracted with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) to study the feasibility of using an abandoned coal mine in Wise County to construct a pumped storage facility.

Currently, Dominion Energy jointly owns the 3,003-MW Bath County pumped-storage hydropower facility, located in Virginia, with First Energy Corp at 60% and 40%, respectively. Dominion manages the scheme, which was completed in 1985, and the Bath County facility is the largest pumped-storage plant in terms of generating capacity in the world.

Dominion Energy has a power generation portfolio of about 25,700 MW.

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