As we speak, a new coal-fired power plant is being built in Wise County, in southwest Virginia. Dominion, which supplies most of our area’s electricity, is the builder. The plant is supposed to come online next year, along with the pollutants that result from any coal plant, even the "clean" ones. And the coal it burns will be at least partially produced through mountaintop removal mining.
If you’re already opposed to such doings, you’re part of the choir that the documentary The Electricity Fairy preaches to. (It’s showing tonight at 7:30 at UVA’s Minor Hall, Room 125.) But it might be worth taking an unenlightened–forgive the pun–friend. Tell them it’s a kid’s flick–they’ll believe you, with a title like that.
The film sets the story of the new Dominion plant against the backdrop of U.S. energy consumption and the larger nationwide debate over new coal plants and mining jobs. Wise County is very poor after decades of coal mining; someone in the film mentions a 22 percent poverty rate. So it’s hard to get excited about yet another round of corporate promises (i.e., this is the project that will bring wealth to Wise County).
We see footage of various hearings through which Dominion gained the state’s permission to build the plant, juxtaposed with evocative footage of 1950s-era housewives using electric can openers, and images of the destruction wrought by surface mining. I’ve been there and seen it, and it’s truly sickening.
Dominion ratepayers are part of this story, and so are those of us who breathe air in Virginia, and so is everyone who lives on a warming planet. Check out the film and let us know what you think below.