Smyth County

Possible Smyth County power plant one step closer to becoming reality

SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - After years of debate, developers are one step closer to building a power plant in Smyth County, Va.

Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), a Maryland-based company, wants to build  a 700 megawatt power plant off of Mulberry Road, in Atkins, Va. The company told us it would generate enough electricity to power 700,000 homes.

CPV held a public comment session on Thursday night to give the public the chance to ask them questions about the power plant. They are required to hold a public hearing in order to get an Air Quality Permit.

Smyth County residents lined up in the Atkins Elementary School gym with questions for CPV.

"I'm concerned about how it's going to effect my property values, my water supply, we have wells on Mulberry Lane," said resident Libby Hoffman. "I'm concerned about the noise and the traffic and the whole quality of life."

Hoffman can see the 108 acre site from her front window. She told us CPV answered some of her questions, particularly her concerns about the water supply. CPV plans to work with the County to install a public water system along Mulberry Lane, Hoffman said.

She told us some of her concerns were not addressed.

"They really didn't have any data on what it would do to property values but they did say the tax base will help keep our property values down," Hoffman said.

CPV Vice President Gener Gotiangco told us the project would bring millions of dollars to the area.

"Four to five million dollars in tax payments in the first year," Gotiangco said. "For the 20, 30 year life of the project, hundreds of millions of dollars to both the Commonwealth, Southwest Virginia and Smyth County."

He told us they hope to start construction on the project sometime in 2015.

"During construction, there will 400 construction workers on site at its peak so for a community you can imagine the benefit to housing, restaurants, retail," Gotiangco said.

The completed power plant would employ about 30 people, he said.

Resident Pat Hash told us he has concerns about who CPV will employ at the plant.

"I'm glad they're using local people to get this thing up," Hash said. "The other thing though that I'm a little concerned about is they say they're going to run 25 to 30 people, my other question was is this going to be local people?"

We found out they will bring in management from other plants, and hire locals to fill the rest of the positions.

Hash has lived in Atkins for 58 years and his home is within two miles of the site.  He asked CPV residents a handful of other questions.

"How the water, sewer, the gas are going to be utilized," said Hash. "I also want to know more or less about the size of this thing, the type of noise that's going to be involved."

Hash told us he was able to get answers to those questions at the public hearing.

The main focus of the event, CPV told us, was to educate the public about the whole project, including possible pollution from the site.

CPV Vice President Gener Gotiangco told us gas powered plants, like the one they plan to build, release 10-20 percent fewer emissions than coal-fired plants.

He told us it could be months, or even up to a year, before they can secure an Air Quality Permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Resident Libby Hoffman told us,even after speaking with CPV representatives, she still has one big question.

"When I go to retire and want to sell the property because we're no longer able to take care of it, will we be able to sell it? Who will want to live next to a gas plant?", she said.

The company told us if the project is approved, the plant could be operational as early as 2016.

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