No progress on Dominion Energy’s proposed hydroelectric pump storage facility on East River Mountain

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:32 PM EDT
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BLUEFIELD, Va. (WVVA) - No progress has been reported on a hydroelectric project in Tazewell County that was proposed in 2017.

Dominion Energy purchased roughly 2,600 acres of land on top of East River Mountain in 2009. This opened a window of opportunity to bring a wind farm to Tazewell County.

After some backlash from the public county leaders passed an ordinance in 2015 prohibiting certain “undesirable developments”. The language of this code specifically included wind turbines.

Two years later Dominion began to propose a different development for the land” A hydroelectric pump storage facility. The blueprint on the project included two reservoirs where electricity would be generated by water flowing from the upper reservoir to the lower.

The estimated price tag for the development was $2 billion.

The energy company began to hold public hearing on their new project, hanging their hopes of success by touting the new jobs it would create in the area.

“We have looked at the number of jobs -of course we’re still at very early stages- but we think it could be an excess of 2 thousand jobs in the construction phase of the project,” said Dan Poteet of Dominion Energy at a 2017 hearing.

In 2019 they continued their public hearings continuing to pitch the idea the facility would generate employment in addition to energy.

“During construction you know approximately 2,000 workers,” said Spencer Atkins of Dominion Energy at a 2019 meeting.

As well as models that estimates a $320 million impact on the region.

That was four years ago and little progress has been made since.

“All of my conversations with the Dominion folks over the last year have been the very gradual ‘It’s not you it’s me’ kind of break up speech. I think they have abandoned that project for all intents and purposes and they just aren’t telling us that,” said Tazewell County Eastern District Supervisor.

We reached out to Dominion about the project and they issued this statement:

“The best approach to meet our customers’ needs while maintaining reliable and affordable energy is an all of the above strategy. The Tazewell project is still under consideration as part of that strategy but no decision has been made at this time.”

We will continue to follow this story.