NOVEC fires up Halifax County biomass plant

By Erin Voegele | November 26, 2013

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative and its development partner, NOVI Energy, recently celebrated the grand opening of a 49.9-megawatt (MW) biomass power plant in South Boston, Va. Construction of the $178 million NOVEC Energy Production Halifax County Biomass plant began in late 2010. The facility is fired by wood chips.

“Virginia doesn’t have renewable energy mandates, but as good stewards of the environment we had been looking for ways to add more green electricity to our power mix,” said NOVEC President and CEO Stan Feuerberg in a statement. “In 2010, NOVEC’s board of directors gave us the go-ahead to start building a biomass plant. We chose Halifax County as the location because it’s in the ‘wood basket’ of Virginia. We realized that its thousands of forested acres could supply us with enough waste wood leftover from logging operations to fuel our plant for decades.”

Feuerberg also noted the many environmental attributes of the plant. In addition to burning waste wood as fuel, he said that unlike coal-fired plants, the biomass facility will not emit mercury or sulfur into the air. In addition, he said that the plant is cooled in a closed loop, using water primarily sourced from a wastewater treatment facility.

 “This project hit the mark. The people wanted it and needed it. The process of economic development moves slowly, but the fruits are great,” said Ed Owens, South Boston mayor.

According to information published by NOVEC, NOVI energy managed full construction of the plant. Fagen Inc. was the turn-key engineering, procurement and construction contractor. The facility will sell the power it generates to NOVEC. The biomass-fired plant is expected to supply up to 6.5 percent of the cooperative’s power requirements.