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Feature Story - Summer 2009

Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center St. Paul, Va.

PROJECT COST: $1.8 Billion

Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center St. Paul, Va.

Dominion Virginia Power’s 585-megawatt Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center was the largest project in Virginia to break ground in 2008. The $1.8-billion job will provide nearly 1,000 jobs during construction. A permanent staff of more than 75 people will operate the plant once it comes online in 2012, and it will support about 350 coal mining jobs.

Shaw Stone & Webster of Baton Rouge, La., began construction in June on the turnkey project.

The energy plant will generate enough electricity to power 146,000 homes. It features two circulating fluidized bed boilers, fueled by Virginia coal and designed to use up to 20% biomass for fuel. The plant also will be able to burn waste coal or “gob,” which should decrease a potential source of pollution to the Clinch River and its tributaries.

The fluidized-bed technology injects ground limestone with the coal, which reduces sulfur dioxide emissions. Nitrogen oxides are decreased by using low-combustion temperatures and selective noncatalytic reduction technology on the emissions stream.

“This is one of the cleanest coal-burning plants ever built in the United States,” says Dominion spokesman Greg Edwards. “Compared to a plant built in the 1990s, only 10% as much sulfur dioxide will be released.”

The hybrid energy center uses an air-cooled condenser to reduce water consumption. The system condenses spent steam from the turbines, eliminating the evaporation of water into the atmosphere. Dominion Virginia estimates the plant will use less than 1 million gallons per day of water, compared to a typical, same-sized power plant, which would require up to 10 million gallons each day.

The new plant is located on a 1,700-acre reclaimed brownfield site near St. Paul in Wise County. The property was once used for surface coal mining, and remedial work was completed before the start of construction.

More than 500 concrete reinforced pilings and caissons will support the new facility. Foundation work continued this spring. Crews finished construction of the 486-ft stack shell at the end of last year.

In March, Dominion Virginia and Shaw Stone & Webster completed the first 1 million hours worked on the project without a lost-time injury. That includes 500,000 hours worked by Shaw employees, as well as Dominion staff and subcontractors involved with earth moving and roadwork.

It will take approximately 6 million hours of work to complete the project. Currently, more than 400 workers are employed in the station’s construction, but Dominion Virginia expects the number could climb to roughly 1,500 when activity peaks in summer 2010.

Key Players

Owner: Dominion Virginia Power, Richmond, Va.
Prime Contractor: Shaw Stone & Webster, Baton Rouge, La.


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