NORTON — Dominion Energy is no longer considering the Bullitt mine site in Appalachia for a planned pumped storage energy project.
Dominion is now looking solely at the East River Mountain site in Tazewell County and all counties in the region will share in the $12 million in tax revenue if the facility is built, based on a revenue-sharing agreement between the seven coalfield counties and the city of Norton.
Dickenson County will receive 10 percent of the tax revenue. Buchanan, Lee, Russell and Scott counties will receive 14 percent each. Wise County will receive 16 percent. Tazewell County will receive 22 percent. Norton will receive 4 percent of the annual tax revenue.
During a Monday morning interview in Norton, Spencer Adkins, Dominion Energy’s director of general projects, confirmed that the Bullitt mine site is “not utilities scale.
“We did an analysis of the Bullitt mine and could not determine how much water would be available.”
While the Bullitt mine site is not suitable for an 800-megawatt facility, Adkins believes it could be used by another company for pumped storage on a smaller scale.
If the Tazewell County site is approved, it is estimated that more than 2,000 jobs will be created during the five- to seven-year construction period. Between 30 and 50 permanent jobs will be created.
Legislation encouraging development of pumped storage power in the coalfields was introduced by state Dels. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, and Del. Todd Pillion, R-Abingdon, and Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Lebanon. It was signed into law in 2017 by then-governor Terry McAuliffe.
Dominion Energy Communication Specialist Jeremy Slayton explained pumped storage in an email:
“Pumped hydroelectric storage stations store kinetic energy in the form of water. When electricity is in high demand, water is released from an upper to a lower reservoir through tunnels, spinning turbines to produce electricity. At times when energy demand is low, the water is pumped back into the upper reservoir to be stored until additional generation may be needed. The ‘on-demand’ nature of pumped storage technology makes it an appealing resource, because it compliments the use of intermittent energy sources like renewables.”
Currently, the Tazewell site is in the “feasibility stage.” According to Adkins and Slayton, Dominion Energy is looking at environmental aspects such as geotechnical borings and water sources.
Adkins said that the next step is for Dominion to submit a preliminary application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This process could take between two and four years.
Dominion Energy will be taking questions and providing more information at upcoming open house events. Open houses are on July 16 at Graham High School in Bluefield, Va. from 4:30-7:30 p.m. and July 18 at Bland High School in Rocky Gap from 4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.