Dominion marks progress on 1,300-MW gas plant in Virginia

Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) officially broke ground on its 1,300-MW Warren County combined-cycle natural gas plant near Front Royal, Va., on May 31, although construction actually started about three months earlier.

Company representatives gathered alongside elected officials, including Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling, to dedicate the estimated $1.1bn power plant that Dominion hopes to bring online in late 2014.

Dominion Generation CEO David Christian pointed to the construction crews and said about 160 temporary workers are already employed and eventually 800 will be on-site at the peak of construction. Once in operation, the plant will employ a staff of 30.

Zachry Construction and Burns & McDonnell are key vendors on the project, Dominion officials said.

The site, which is roughly 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., is strategically located near both electric transmission and a natural gas pipeline, Christian said in a subsequent interview with GenerationHub.

The power plant is being built at an industrial site in the shadow of two 500-kV power lines. One is owned by Dominion and the other is part of the Trans-Allegheny Interstate system.

“As you can see there is not going to be a lot of work getting the power to the grid,” Christian said. Natural gas will be provided through the Columbia Gas Transmission System, which is affiliated with NiSource (NYSE: NI).

“If gas prices stay low,” it’s going to be operating as a baseload power plant “with some cycling,” Christian said. Bear Garden, the combined-cycle gas plant that Dominion brought online in 2011 in Buckingham County, has been running a lot and has saved Dominion customers millions of dollars compared to having to buy power off the market, Christian said.

The company projects the Warren County plant will save its customers more than $100m in fuel costs in its first year of operation.

Dominion will also soon be seeking Virginia State Corporation Commission approval for a new natural gas plant in Brunswick County, company officials said. Dominion is projected to need 4,000 MW of additional electricity by 2022 to meet peak demand from its customers. Dominion is also nearly finished with building a new coal plant in Wise County, Va.

Once built, the 3-on-1 configured, 1,300-MW Warren County combined-cycle power plant will provide energy to the equivalent of approximately 325,000 homes. Major technology for the plant will include a Mitsubishi TC4F steam turbine, three Mitsubishi M501GAC gas turbines and dry cooling via an air-cooled condenser.

Work crews at the Warren County site have already poured thousands of yards of concrete and done much of the work on the foundation of the heat recovery steam generator system, Christian said.

The idea for building a natural gas power plant at the site has actually been around since the 1990s. Maryland-based Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) received the first license for the plant and eventually sold its rights to Dominion. Dominion got its final state approval for the project earlier this year.

Officials noted that the new Warren County power plant should have minimal impact on the nearby Shenandoah National Park. Dominion and subsidiary Virginia Electric and Power agreed to retire some old coal-fired generation in West Virginia to reduce the net air emissions from the new gas plant.

Local officials also noted that the new Dominion plant will be one of the largest water customers for the town of Front Royal.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at