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Wood-chip power could light 16,000 homes

Sunday - 10/20/2013, 10:00am  ET

MANASSAS, Va. - Your holiday lights this year could be powered by wood chips.

NOVEC, which has 160,000 customers in six northern Virginia counties, will open its very first power plant next month in Halifax County in southern Virginia.

It what's known as a bio-mass power plant. The electricity will be generated by the burning of wood chips, from wood waste which has been dumped to rot by the state's lumber industry for hundreds of years.

"There's many thousands of acres of forest land and there's lots of wood," says NOVEC spokeswoman Pricilla Knight.

She says waste from the lumber industry in the Halifax area has been doing nothing but decaying into methane gas.

"We're gonna take that waste wood, chop it up into wood chips and burn it in our bio-mass plant."

The plant, under construction since 2010, will open in November. It's expected to generate 49.9 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 16,000 homes. The power will fed into the regional power transmission system but will be used exclusively by NOVEC.

Knight says there will be very little emission from the power plant.

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