Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

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September 1, 2011

Contact: Nick Sifuentes,, 310-866-1692

Glen Besa,, 804-387-6001

Sierra Club Celebrates Dominion Decision to Phase out Two Virginia Coal Plants

Under Pressure from Activists, Yorktown and Chesapeake Generating Stations to be Retired

Richmond, VA – Dominion Resources Inc., the Commonwealth of Virginia's largest utility, announced today that it will phase out two of its oldest and dirtiest coal fired power plants. The Chesapeake and Yorktown plants, situated in coastal Virginia, will end operations by 2016 and 2015 respectively. This announcement comes just days after GenOn Energy, Inc. announced that it had decided to phase out the Potomac Generating Station, an aging coal fired power plant in northern Virginia.

"Today's announcement of the retirement of the Chesapeake and Yorktown plants in another critical win for the residents of Virginia," said Sierra Club's Executive Director Michael Brune. "These two plants are a major source of pollution in coastal Virginia, and the decision by Dominion to responsibly phase them out means kids will have the opportunity to breathe cleaner air. Local activists and everyday Virginians have been working for years to ensure that plants like these get cleaned up or phased out; today they all celebrate this victory."

Chesapeake and Yorktown are two of the worst polluters in the region, with Chesapeake alone pumping out more than 3 million tons of carbon pollution every year. The two plants are also responsible for tens of thousands of tons of soot and smog pollution each year. This pollution generates a deadly haze which can trigger asthma attacks, respiratory illnesses, and can contribute to heart disease, cancers and other ailments. Nationally, pollution from coal-fired power plants is responsible for billions of dollars in health costs and lost work and school days annually.

"Dominion has clearly signaled that it's time to shift away from dirty and dangerous sources of energy that affect the lives of every Virginian," said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "Soot and smog threaten the lives of children every day, and plants like these are a primary culprit in our nation's asthma epidemic. The retirement of these two plants will save ratepayer dollars from propping up two old and dirty plants giving kids a chance at cleaner air and a little bit more room to breathe. This decision is a win for the health Virginia of families."

"We're extremely pleased with the announcement that Dominion will be retiring the fifty-year-old Chesapeake and Yorktown plants," said Glen Besa, Director of the Sierra Club's Virginia Chapter. "By phasing out these two plants Dominion has ensured that electricity rates won't rise due to costly investments in outdated energy sources. We are, however, disappointed that Dominion has not made a firm commitment to developing wind and solar power in Virginia. It is important that we use the retirement timeline of these plants to retrain their workforce and create new clean energy jobs—something which we could accomplish with offshore wind in the Chesapeake. Onshore wind in our neighboring states, like West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Indiana, is creating both clean energy and good jobs. We want Dominion to recognize that it's Virginia's turn."

The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign has been actively engaged in Virginia since 2003 with support for retiring these plants going back even further. The Chesapeake and Yorktown plants are the country's 96th and 97th plants to announce retirement since January of 2010. Recently the Sierra Club joined forces with Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, and his Bloomberg Philanthropies to combat the dangerous health effects coal fired power has on children and families across the nation. The announcement of a $50 million dollar gift to roll back the threat of coal-fired pollution was held just outside the now-retiring plant in Alexandria.

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