RICHMOND, Va., April 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Since beginning commercial operation in July 2012, Dominion Virginia Power's Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County has recycled nearly 1.1 million tons of waste coal, following through on a commitment to help clean environmental hot spots that dot the coalfields of Southwest Virginia.
The waste coal, also called "gob," is piled along miles of streams and rivers in the region. Left over from earlier coal mining, it is a source of metals and other contaminants that leach into local waterways. In 2012, the station, just west of St. Paul, used about 484,000 tons of waste coal. Last year, the station used about 615,000 tons to generate electricity.
"One of the benefits we saw in building the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center was the abundance of low-cost waste coal that newer technologies would allow us to use as fuel," said David A. Christian, chief executive officer for Dominion Generation. "At the same time that we are holding down rates for our customers by burning waste coal, we also are helping Southwest Virginia clean up some of its biggest environmental challenges."
Gob is material – mostly rock and lower BTU coal – that mining operations discarded in the early to mid-1900s. Prior to regulations on how to handle gob, the material simply piled up, often along stream beds. There are literally hundreds of gob piles throughout the central Appalachian coalfields.Dominion selected a circulating fluidized bed technology for the station's boilers because it is able to burn a wide variety of fuels. That flexibility allows the station to select and blend fuels to obtain the cheapest fuel, saving money for the company's customers.