Virginia commission staff supports 750-MW gas project proposal

This 750-MW project would be located in Loudoun County, Va.

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The Virginia State Corporation Commission staff on Feb. 11 filed generally supportive testimony in a case begun last September over the 750-MW, gas-fired project of Green Energy Partners/Stonewall LLC.

“The proposed Project does not appear to be contrary to the public interest,” wrote Senior Utilities Analyst Marc Tufaro. “In this regard, Staff notes that the Applicant is not a regulated utility, and as a result any business risk associated with the proposed Project will be borne solely by the Applicant, with no impact on the rates paid by the ratepayers in Virginia. The proposed Project's generation should enhance local reliability and may displace older, more costly generators in the region. The proposed Project should also enhance the competitive market for wholesale electricity in the region by offering generation that will not be owned by an incumbent electric utility, and will increase in-state energy production. It also does not appear that any additional gas pipelines or electric transmission lines will be necessary to serve the proposed Project.”

Also, the project is designed to utilize reclaimed waste water that would otherwise be discharged into local waterways, reducing the phosphorus, nitrogen, suspended solids, and other nutrients deposited into the Potomac River basin, contributing to efforts to preserve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, Tufaro added.

Green Energy Partners/Stonewall applied in September 2013 at the commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct and operate a 750-MW natural gas-fired, combined-cycle facility in Loudoun County. Stonewall is currently controlled by its three members: GEP/S Holdings LLC, Bechtel Development Co. (BDC), and Panda Midatlantic Development LLC. GEP/S Holdings is principally owned by John Andrews II, a real estate developer based in Loudoun County. BDC is a part of Bechtel Corp. Panda Midatlantic is the majority owner and managing partner of Stonewall. Prior to construction, Panda Midatlantic will become the sole member of Stonewall. Panda Midatlantic will draw on development, technical, and financing expertise from Panda Power Funds.

Panda is a private equity firm that has developed, financed, constructed, and/or operated approximately 12,000 MW of natural gas-fueled generating capacity ranging from 180 to 2,250 MW in size, Tufaro noted. Panda currently owns and operates generating plants in New Jersey, Texas and Pennsylvania, and Panda currently has three 758 MW plants under construction in Sherman, Texas, and Temple, Texas, and an 829 MW plant under construction in Bradford County, Pa.

Project has gas and transmission lines already on-site

The proposed Stonewall project will be located in Loudoun County on a 101-acre parcel zoned for industrial uses. The site is located south-southeast of the Leesburg Executive Airport and north of the Dulles Greenway. It will be configured with two combustion turbines, two heat recovery steam generators with duct burners, and one steam turbine generator.

Natural gas will be obtained from one or both of the natural gas interstate pipelines that currently traverse the site. One pipeline is owned by Dominion Transmission and the other by Columbia Gas Transmission. Also, Washington Gas Light has intervened in this case and requested consideration by the commission of its request to evaluate and make an offer to provide service to the project, Tufaro added.

The site is currently traversed by three existing Virginia Electric and Power transmission lines. The project is proposed to interconnect on the Pleasant View-to-Brambleton 230 kV TL201 transmission line that traverses the property. Interconnection approvals are ongoing at PJM Interconnection. Virginia Electric, which does business as Dominion Virginia Power, is a unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D).

Brian Pratt, a Utilities Analyst in the commission's Division of Energy Regulation, said in companion testimony that this project would have numerous job and other economic benefits in the project area. “Staff also notes that there may be system benefits associated with the proposed Project as well,” he added. “The proposed Project will increase generating capacity within the Dominion zone of PJM, and thereby increase reliability and enhance the competitive market for wholesale electricity within the region.”

Barry Cassell
About the Author

Barry Cassell

Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 26 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.

Barry can be reached at barryc@pennwell.com.

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