50-MW Halifax County, Va., biomass plant almost complete

Construction is substantially complete at a roughly 50-MW biomass power plant that a Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) affiliate is developing in Halifax County in southern Virginia.

NOVI Energy expects to complete construction on the $170m power project by late September, a NOVEC spokesperson said Aug. 30. Certain equipment testing is already getting underway, the spokesperson said. Construction started in November 2010.

Commercial operation of the plant near South Boston, Va., is expected in late October or early November, the representative said. The Halifax County Biomass (NEPHCB) project sits on a 100-acre site that was once home to a Georgia-Pacific manufacturing facility.

Funding for this project will be a combination of a $90m loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, equity funds, and state and federal grants. The system is officially rated at 49.95 MW because projects of 50MWs and below are governed by different permitting requirements than larger projects, the spokesperson said.

Fagen Inc., of Granite Falls, Minn., is the turn-key engineering, procurement and construction contractor. Fagen had a peak construction workforce of 250 workers. Once the construction is completed, NOVI will hire 26 full time employees for the plant.

The larger impact on the labor market will be the hundreds of persons involved in forestry, logging, and the provision of waste-wood products and other services that will be needed to support the operations of this facility, NOVEC said on its website.

This facility intends to use wood waste or “slash” from within a 75-mile radius of South Boston. It will connect to the grid via a 115-kV transmission line.

Once the plant achieves full operation, NOVEC expects it to supply 6.5% of its power from the biomass plant by 2014. The NOVEC system serves more than 150,000 homes and businesses located in Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties, the City of Manassas Park and the Town of Clifton, all in northern Virginia. The NOVEC system has a demand of roughly 1,000 MW.


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 wayneb@pennwell.com.