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Halifax power plant proposal goes before public

A public hearing on NOVI Energy, LLC’s energy company’s permit application will be held Monday at 6 p.m. in the main conference room at the Riverstone Center. NOVI Energy, LLC, operating under South Boston Energy LLC, is moving closer to locating a new 49.9 megawatt $150 million wood-fired power generating facility at the former Georgia-Pacific site on Plywood Trail.

Halifax County recently received notification from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that South Boston Energy, LLC has submitted an application to construct a wood-fired electricity generating facility at 1225 Plywood Trail.

According to County Administrator George Nester, under the DEQ permitting guidelines, this facility is considered to be a new major stationary source that may affect air quality.

DEQ is required to furnish local government officials with copies of public notice regarding a major air quality permit, Nester said.

NOVI and NOVEC have requested that Rural Utilities Service (RUS) provide financing assistance.

According to DEQ Senior Environmental Engineer Patrick Corbett, South Boston Energy LLC submitted an application on Aug. 2 to build the wood-fired electricity generating facility on Plywood Trail.

The proposed facility’s permitted emission rates of carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen are greater than 100 tons per year, he explained. For this reason, the DEQ considers the proposed project a new “major stationary source.”

In March of 2008, Halifax County IDA announced it was courting NOVI Energy, LLC, in an effort to locate the $150 million wood-fired power generating facility at the former Georgia-Pacific site on Plywood Trail.

The announcement that the Michigan-based energy plant was considering building a facility in South Boston brought mixed responses from the community - concerns about air pollution mixed with enthusiasm that the industry will create new jobs.

Halifax County’s IDA entered into a purchase option agreement with NOVI Energy to develop the energy facility here that will provide between 30-35 jobs.

Anand Gangadharan, president of NOVI Energy, LLC, said in 2008 if NOVI constructs its wood-fired power generating plant at the former Georgia-Pacific site, employees would be hired locally.

“We would need plant operators with some technical training, managers and staff specialized in administration.

Most would be full-time employees with full benefits earning an annual average salary of between $55,000 to $65,000,” he explained.

Some positions would possibly pay less, but that would be an average annual salary, he added.

He emphasized the plant would not emit “much smell.”

“We’re not that kind of industry,” he said pointing out the power plant would not be similar to a paper mill, but rather a wood-burning facility.

“We would use the best technology, and you would hardly notice it,” Gangadharan added.

In addition, he said the ash from the burned wood would be returned to its original location to be used as a type of renewable resource fertilizer.

“We’re trying to be responsible on that front,” he said.

Wood scraps left over after a logging company cuts and removes timber from the land could be used for fuel, IDA officials said.

The proposed project consists of a wood-fired power plant and associated facilities that plans to utilize treated water available from the neighboring Halifax County Service Authority’s (HCSA’s) municipal waste water treatment plant for select applications. 

The treated water would be delivered via a new eight-inch line to be constructed adjacent to an existing sewer line that serves the site. 

Truck delivery of biomass fuel would occur via State Route 879 (Plywood Trail) from U.S. Route 360. 

An extended new turn lane would be completed on westbound Route 360 to facilitate traffic flow and avoid backups.

The facility would interconnect to the PJM Interconnection electric grid at the on-site Reedy Creek substation. 

The planned in-service date for the proposed project is May 31, 2013, according to an advertisement published earlier this month.