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Ribbon cutting, tour held for county’s newest plant

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative and its development partner NOVI Energy and more than 150 Virginia state and local officials and guests celebrated the “grand opening” of the NOVEC Energy Production, Halifax County Biomass plant Thursday with a luncheon at The Prizery followed by a ribbon cutting and plant tour. 

“It’s great to be back in Virginia for this event. I am honored to be here to represent the governor and the lieutenant governor in this 

remarkable grand opening of the power plant in Halifax County,” said Cheng. 

“It’s been a long time coming, since 2009. But, you know, in terms of energy production, that’s really an amazingly short time frame. It shows great teamwork between localities, the state, the federal government and of course, NOVEC.”  

Among the speakers were Stan Feuerburg, president and CEO of NOVEC, Thomas West, chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, South Boston Mayor Ed Owens, John Paldalino, the administrator of Rural Utilities Service, Sheldon Petersen, the CEO of Cooperative Finance Corporation, Tom Halverson, the chief banking officer of CoBank, Anand Gangadharan, president of NOVI Energy, and Wade House, chairman of NOVEC Board of Directors. 

Each speaker expressed appreciation for the new state-of-the-art renewable energy power plant, located on Plywood Trail in South Boston.  

This plant will be capable of generating 49.9 megawatts of electricity for the cooperatives’ customer-owners by burning wood chips.  The wood waste is burned as fuel to create power in a “carbon-neutral” process creating steam. The steam then spins a turbine that produces energy. “Reclaimed water” from the local water authority will be used to cool the plant.

The plant will provide enough electricity to power 16,000 homes. 

USDA, in partnership with the Manassas-based Northern Virginian Electric Cooperative and NOVI Energy, helped to finance this endeavor. 

Padalino said, “Rural Utilities Service provided a $90 million long-term loan for the plant.”

The plant construction also was supported through other loan and grant funds of $40 million and NOVEC equity in excess of $50 million. 

According to Feuerberg, in 2010 the NOVEC’s board of directors gave the “go-ahead” to start building the 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.” 

During the construction period, the project created about 250 jobs with a total payroll of $30 million. 

The completed facility requires 26 new full-time jobs with an annual payroll in excess of $1.5 million. 

The facility also will generate $600,000 in new annual property tax revenue. In addition, Virginia has taxed about $35 million in material purchased for construction. The result of that is nearly $1.8 million in new sales tax revenue available for use by the commonwealth and Halifax County.    

Halverson said, “This is truly a tremendous achievement. It will benefit the local area, the local government, and the local citizens for many years to come. It not only meets the needs of your customers, but it’s a great example of cooperate citizenship.”