August 8, 2008

Mammoth Power Plant Taking Shape


MAIDSVILLE - Perhaps the most striking feature of the $1.83 billion Longview power plant being built here is its configuration.

Situated on 272 rolling acres about eight miles north of Morgantown, the plant is like an octopus. It will draw water from the Monongahela River, about a mile to the east. A Mepco Inc. mine will feed it coal from the Sewickley seam via a 4 1/2-mile-long overland conveyor belt from the northwest. It will connect to the power grid at an Allegheny Energy substation to the northeast. And vehicles access the site using Fort Martin Road to the south.

Another unusual feature: The 10,000 tons of steel used in the boiler building and the 2,800 tons in the turbine deck were made and fabricated in China, shipped to Houston, then trucked overland to the construction site.

After years of opposition from local citizen groups, ground for the 695-megawatt plant was broken in May 2007. Longview is the first coal-fired plant built in West Virginia since the 80-megawatt Grant Town power plant went online in 1993.

The plant is one of the largest private investments in the history of West Virginia.

Charlie Huguenard, Longview Power's general manager, said about $600 million of the plant's cost is hidden underground in pipes, footers and foundations. A total of about $710 million has been invested to date.

The steel outline of the plant is quickly taking shape. About 500 construction workers are on site during a typical day. That number is expected to swell to about 1,500 by the end of the year, when construction activity peaks.

"It's an impressive construction project - probably one of the largest on the East Coast right now," said David Warner, who toured the site earlier this month.

Warner is executive director of the West Virginia Economic Development Authority. The authority expects to issue up to $600 million in tax-free bonds to help finance the project.

Unlike old power plants, which have had equipment bolted on over the years, Huguenard said Longview "was designed up front with the best technology available."

The plant will burn pulverized coal using a high-efficiency process and will have scrubbers that capture sulfur and mercury, a catalytic reduction system that cuts nitrogen oxide emissions and a bag house that captures particulates.

Aker Kvaerner Songer Inc. and Siemens Power Generation Inc. - acting as a consortium - have a series of contracts for the engineering, supply of equipment and construction of the Longview project. Foster Wheeler North America Corp. is supplying the boiler.

Huguenard, who has 28 years of experience in the power generation industry, said the project is ahead of schedule and on budget. The plant is expected to begin producing power in the fourth quarter of 2010.

In January 2007 PPL EnergyPlus, the energy marketing subsidiary of PPL Corp. of Allentown, Pa., entered into a contract with Longview Power to purchase 300 megawatts of the plant's output for a fixed price over five years with an option to extend the contract at a fixed price for an additional year. Other terms were not disclosed. The power purchase will begin in January 2012.

Huguenard said the other power produced by the plant will be sold in the PJM Interconnection region.

GenPower Holdings Limited Partnership of Needham, Mass., owns Longview Power. GenPower Limited Liability Co. and First Reserve Corp. jointly own GenPower Holdings.

Contact writer George Hohmann at [email protected] or 304- 348-4836.

Originally published by DAILY MAIL BUSINESS EDITOR.

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