Energy Boost: New Leesburg Power Plant Goes Operational

Bechtel announced Thursday the completion of work on the Stonewall Energy Facility south of Leesburg. Owned by Panda Power Funds, the natural gas-fired 778-megawatt combined-cycle generating station can supply electricity for up to 778,000 homes.

The construction wrapped up ahead of schedule and under budget and the plant began to supply power to the grid late last week.

The project involved the installation of 1.4 million linear feet of electrical cable, 113,161 feet of pipe, and 890 tons of steel. More than 1.6 million man hours were put in by more than 700 workers.

Initial tests show the plant is exceeding performance guarantees for both power output and efficiency, according to Panda Power Funds.

The station was built by a turn-key consortium of Siemens Energy Inc. and Bechtel Corp. Siemens provided the power island package—including the natural gas turbines, steam turbine, generators, heat recovery steam generators, and instrumentation and controls systems. Bechtel was responsible for the engineering and procurement for the balance of the plant, and the construction and commissioning of the facility.

“Panda Stonewall is one of the newest, cleanest and most efficient natural gas-fueled power plants in the United States,” stated Todd W. Carter, CEO and senior partner of Panda Power Funds. “Entering commercial operations represents the ultimate success of Panda’s, Bechtel’s and Siemens’ three-year collaboration on Stonewall.”

The Stonewall plant was projected to contribute $7.1 billion to Virginia’s economy during the construction phase and the plant’s first 10 years of operation.

The plant employs 27 full-time employees to oversee operations and maintenance of the facility.

The Panda Stonewall plant was designed to minimize impacts to the local community including the use of advanced emissions-control technology. The generating station also uses reclaimed water that is piped from Town of Leesburg to cool the facility.

The project has its origins with a local developer, Andrews Community Investments. Starting in 2008, the team led by John A. Andrews and Jordan Dimoff worked with the Town of Leesburg and Loudoun Board of Supervisors to win local and state approvals for the power plant on the 100-acre property. With those approvals in hand, Dallas-based Panda invested in the project and began site work on the Stonewall facility in 2014.

Gas can be supplied to the Stonewall facility from either of two 30-inch gas pipelines, individually owned by Dominion Resources and Columbia Gas, which pass through the plant site. The plant connects to the grid through an existing Dominion Virginia Power 230-kV line that traverses the site between the Pleasant View and Brambleton substations.

An aerial view of the Panda Stonewall power plant.

6 thoughts on “Energy Boost: New Leesburg Power Plant Goes Operational

  • 2017-05-18 at 5:30 pm

    Perhaps nobody else will wax poetically over a power station, but I find the construction of these modern industrial facilities to be “wonderful” in the true sense of the word. The amount of engineering that goes into this facility is truly marvelous. Humans can create impressive things.

    Thank you for the aerial view. It is much clearer from above than through the trees.

    All our iPhones, computers, streetlights, etc. now have a new food source.

    • 2017-05-19 at 10:07 am

      I see it differently. There are now many other ways to generate the power we need without burning fossil fuels and the costs of utility scale clean energy projects are finally competitive. Despite cutting edge emission controls technology, the fact is this plant will dump massive amounts of carbon into our air. The process of extracting oil and gas from the earth is concerning. Since we all breathe air, we should probably try to find ways to make it cleaner (code orange air quality today for the 3rd day in a row). Humans can create impressive things, we should do better in choosing the types of projects we build.

      • 2017-05-20 at 6:51 am

        I appreciate good engineering as well, but this technology doesnt help solve our carbon emissions problem. Even more tragic is the fact that companies like Dominion power actively lobby against renewables to protect their large investment in natural gas production and infrastructure.

        Fortunately solar PV costs continue to drop dramatically. Putting solar on your roof today is an investment with an ROI of around 6%. The more who can do that, the less plants like this will need to run. Save money and help the planet at the same time!

      • 2017-05-21 at 2:13 pm

        @RogParish, I couldn’t agree more. I appreciate the time and engineering that went into constructing a gas-fired power plant that is demonstrably better that its predecessors. That being said, wouldn’t the county have been better served economically by jobs of the future in solar and wind instead of chaining itself for decades to come to a dirty energy source?
        Before anyone replies, yes, natural gas is a dirty energy source. Its extraction involves propriety mixes of toxic chemicals being pumped into the ground. Its transport involves destruction of natural environments and the use of eminent domain to take private property for the use of pipelines. Using it as a fuels source requires the removal of “impurities” (which, who knows what that means and where those “impurities” go) and then burning a fossil fuel that is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Natural gas infrastructure is damaging to local communities’ health, environment, property values and long-term economies.
        Obviously, we can’t un-build this power plant, but it would be nice if future power generation in Loudoun included renewable sources.

  • 2017-05-19 at 10:10 am

    I assume this is the facility for which over-size loads were brought up Route 15 overnight from Prince William County?

  • 2017-05-20 at 10:36 am

    There are many issues with this plant. First, methane (natural gas) is a 50x more potent greenhouse trapper gas than CO2. Mining by hydraulic fracturing contaminates ground water with toxic chemicals, and around 10% of all the gas mined escapes into the atmosphere. Gas pipelines are dangerous and a scar on the land.

    Locally, the plant will produce the equivalent of 35,000 additional automobiles on the road every day. Loudoun is an EPA non-attainment zone meaning we already do not meet the minimum EPA standard for particulate (ozone) content in our air. This plant will generate approximately 800,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, and is located within 1.5 miles of 3 elementary schools and an outdoor sports park. 14 public schools in are within 5 miles. A special permit had to be obtained from the EPA in order to operate.

    John Andrews colluded with Scott York to convince the board to approve the site, located in the Greenway Transition Zone, from rural housing (R10) to this monster, using the guise of a hybrid energy park with 30 acres of solar panels to convince the board to approve the zoning change.

    A 30,000 gallon aqueous ammonia storage tank located on site sits perched right on the edge of Beaverdam Creek, near the reservoir.

    I expect to see a increase in allergy and respiratory issues especially in children living east of the plant.

    I hope everyone enjoys the next 50 years of this pollution monster living right in the heart of Loudoun.

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