On the news Wire Today:
LS Power, based in New Jersey paid $195,000 for the option, allowing it to start its extensive study and permitting process, said Matt Held, a project development coordinator for the company.
The potentially $500 million plant would be built on a nearly 27-acre property the county bought in 1990 before it scrapped plans to build its own power plant there.
The plan for the property, a little more than a half-mile from Interstate 66 and Manassas National Battlefield Park, has flown largely under the radar.
“I don’t think you’re going to find anybody who knows anything about it,” said Kim Hosen, executive director of the Prince William Conservation Alliance, noting there likely would be opposition when people learn more about it.
Conservation advocates have exerted strong power in the region over the years, quashing the proposed Disney theme park in the mid-1990s and marshaling opposition to a proposed 500-megawatt transmission line in the region.
As Northern Virginia’s population rapidly expands, the region has become an attractive site for a new power plant, Held said.
The company began a feasibility study for the site in January, which would pump up to 873 megawatts into the Washington region’s electric system.
The plant could open as early as 2012, depending on the levels of local and state approval that are required, Held said. The company would pay $7.86 million for the land.
LS Power committed to hold public hearings in the community later this year, said John Hofield, research and marketing director for the Prince William County Department of Economic Development.
“The board has granted them an option for three years to hold the property while they apply for their various permits,” Hofield said. “The plant is not a done deal yet.”
Although the property is designated for heavy industrial use, the company will need to acquire a special use permit to accommodate the plant, a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and approval from the State Corporation Commission.
“I think Prince William County has more than its share [of power plants],” Hosen said.
But the company will argue that natural gas will make it a lower-pollution alternative than coal-fire plants in western Virginia.
Having a highly efficient gas-fired plant is a positive benefit for Northern Virginia, Held said.
Sounds like another round of debates on a well trod battleground. And I’m not talking about the physical one.