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Wood-fired plant up for DEQ review

SoVaNow.com / November 01, 2010
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled a Nov. 22 public hearing on a long-dormant wood-burning power plant that backers intend to build on the outskirts of South Boston.

NOVI Energy, which is facing the end of its lease period on land owned by the county, is pursuing the construction of a new, 49.9 megawatt wood-fired power plant at the site of the former Georgia-Pacific plywood plant just outside of town. Michigan-based NOVI and its utility partner, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, plan to build and operate the project, which will be classified as a major source of air pollution and requires an environmental assessment (EA).

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a branch of the USDA, has issued an EA and will take public comments through Dec. 7. The assessment is available at the South Boston Library. The Nov. 22 public hearing will be held at the main conference room of the Riverstone Technology Building One starting at 6 p.m.

Mike Sexton, executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, said he expects action soon on the project. NOVI’s lease on the Georgia-Pacific project expires on Feb. 11.

A DEQ notice indicates that the in-service start-up date for the wood-fired plant is May 31, 2013.

The estimated effect on air quality near the facility from the proposed project meets all air quality standards, according to DEQ.

NOVI has been working on the project for the past two years and has applied for permits from the State Corporation Commission (SCC) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for the project.

“We are assisting them with the public hearing so people can have an opportunity to understand what is going to happen there,” said Sexton.

Sexton said DEQ officials will respond to all questions that local citizens may ask at the Nov. 22 hearing.

He praised the DEQ for doing a good job making sure that the public knows what’s going on with the plant. “They are one of the finest in the country in doing their permitting,” said Sexton, noting that residents may have concerns about noise, smell and the affluence coming out of the stacks at the plant.

The comment period on the proposed plant started on Oct. 22

DEQ, he said, has done some modeling of the project and information gathered by the agency will be available to anyone who has an interest in it.

“We still have a long way yet to go,” Sexton said.

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