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Producing Excellence

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative

Manassas, VA

Products: Electric energy supply and distribution

Size of Operation: 158,000 customers

In Business Since: 1983 (predecessor cooperatives since the 1930s)

Farm Credit Partner: CoBank

Since November of 2013, a portion of the power flowing to homes and businesses across northern Virginia has come from an unlikely source: waste wood.

To help bolster its renewable energy portfolio, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, or NOVEC, built a 49.9-megawatt “green” biomass power plant near South Boston, Virginia. The $178 million project, completed in 2013, satisfies over six percent of the cooperative’s energy requirements—enough to meet the needs of about 16,000 residential customers.

The plant burns waste wood “slash,” which is the unused portion of the treeleft behind after the logging of a tract of timber. It also burns some mill residue from processing wood into other products such as flooring and furniture. In addition, the plant will be carbon neutral, meaning it will not add any more carbon dioxide to the environment beyond what’s already released through natural decomposition of the wood. Better yet, no sulfur or mercury will be emitted by the plant. The project was financed through a $90 million loan from the USDA's Rural Utilities Service, NOVEC equity, and state and federal grants, with CoBank providing an interim construction line of credit for liquidity.

“Being a good steward of the environment has always been a priority at NOVEC,” said company President and CEO Stan Feuerberg. “Having a strong financial partner such as CoBank, who shares our commitment to the environment, certainly helped make the project possible.” Feuerberg added that the interim financing provided by CoBank was critical to getting the project off the ground.

“Not only is this plant meeting the needs and wants of NOVEC’s customers by providing cleaner and reliable energy, it’s a great example of corporate citizenship and the cooperative spirit,” said Candace Roper, senior vice president and manager of CoBank’s Electric Distribution Banking Division.

NOVEC was recognized by J.D. Power & Associates in 2012 for ranking highest in customer satisfaction among 30 mid-size electric utilities in the South.NOVEC has consistently ranked in the top ten of all electric utilities in the country by J.D. Power in its annual electric utility residential customer satisfaction study.

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