Dominion to award enviro education grants

Stephen Igo • Jan 21, 2018 at 6:30 PM

RICHMOND — Dominion Energy announced Thursday it will again provide $1 million in environmental grants through the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation.

The competitive program supports specific short-term projects by nonprofit groups and schools working to improve the environment and provide environmental education experiences in communities served by the company.

“Each year, we are so impressed by the variety and quality of environmental programs and educational efforts in our communities,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. “These grants support programs that truly make a difference by improving natural spaces and giving children and adults alike the opportunities to treasure and enjoy the great outdoors.”

The company used as an example StreamSweepers, a past grant recipient based in Orange, Va., that mobilizes young adults each summer to improve the health of rivers by collecting trash using canoes and johnboats.

Nonprofit organizations are invited to apply for grants of up to $25,000 for short-term projects that promise measurable results to improve the environment. Also, public and private K-12 schools in eligible regions can apply for classroom grants of up to $5,000 for environmental education programs.

Dominion will consider grant requests that focus on one or more of three priorities, including educating students and the public about environmental stewardship, protecting and preserving natural habitats and improving open spaces and making nature accessible.

For details and an online application, visit www.dominionenergy.com/envirogrants. Grant awards will be announced in April.

Virginia’s seven coal-producing counties in Southwest Virginia are eligible territories. Dominion Energy owns and operates the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County, a power station with a net generating capacity of 600 megawatts located in St. Paul.

The facility burns coal but also uses waste coal, making an impact on the cleanup of the region’s abandoned mine spoil (also known as gob) sites as well as up to 20 percent biomass (wood chips) in its fuel load to produce electricity.

The waste coal aspect of the VCHEC is particularly interesting from an environmental standpoint. Dominion continues to work with Gobco LLC of Abingdon, a company that specializes in “mining” and then restoring to environmental health the numerous waste coal sites splattered across Southwest Virginia.

Gobco separates coal in the gob piles from rock, cleans it and provides it to the Hybrid Energy Center for use in the power station. The waste site is then cleaned down to the original ground, covered with topsoil, sloped as needed for proper drainage and fit into natural contours of the surrounding landscape, and planted with appropriate grasses and trees.

Restoring sites across the region to natural health by a process that also contributes to keeping the lights on are exceptional environmental achievements in their own right.

The St. Paul station also generates about $6 million in annual property tax payments to Wise County and St. Paul and $25 million annually for the local economy.

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