Construction Updates - 2008 through 2011

View the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center page for current updates.

2011 Construction Updates

Update for November 2011 — Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center Fires Boiler For First Time

Dominion Virginia Power started one of two boilers on Nov. 10, 2011, at its Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Southwest Virginia, beginning the testing phase of the power station that is on budget and on schedule to begin generating electricity next summer.

Work began at VCHEC in June 2008 and is 93 percent complete. Construction is well into its final phase during which station equipment is being tested and cleared to be put into operation. The $1.8 billion project remains on budget and on schedule for commercial operation by the summer of 2012.

Update for January 2011 — Dominion’s Wise County Project Nearing Home Stretch 

By New Year’s Day, Dominion’s Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center project was significantly more than three-fourths complete.

On an average weekday during the fall, roughly 2,300 men and women were employed at the construction site located on St. Paul’s western edge. That number exceeded by several hundred the initial estimate of peak employment on the project, which was made before construction began in June 2008.

Employment, as expected, has gradually dropped off and at the first of the year stood at roughly 1,600 with more reductions expected as additional work on the project is completed. On Jan. 3, the project reached the milestone of more than 8 million employee-hours worked without a lost-time accident.

A 138,000-volt power line to carry the station’s output to a connection with the regional grid at Carbo in Russell County was completed this fall. Other recent work has included alignment of turbine and generator components and the installation of coal, limestone and wood systems inside the boiler building.

"We’re on schedule," said Project Site Manager Charlie Scott. "We completed [electrical] backfeed of the start-up/standby transformer on Nov. 13 and recent major activity has been the boiler hydrostatic pressure test. Almost all the major equipment is set in place and we’ve got a pretty good start on commissioning."

In 2011, the project will undergo its final stages of completion with the installation of cable and final work on piping systems and on the commissioning of the station’s equipment. The $1.8 billion, 585-megawatt coal and wood-burning power station is scheduled to begin commercial operation in the summer of 2012.

2010 Construction Updates

Update for July 2010 — 400-Ton Generator Component Arrives at Dominion Power Station Project in Wise County

A convoy bringing a 400-ton component to Dominion's Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center project arrived on the construction site on July 7.

The arrival of the stator – the largest stationary component of the new electric generator – marks a major milestone in the construction of the 585-megawatt power station. Construction began in June 2008 and is approximately 65 percent complete. The station is on schedule to begin generating electricity commercially in the summer of 2012.

The $1.8 billion power station will produce enough electricity to power 146,000 typical homes at peak demand. The project is part of the company's "Powering Virginia" plan to help meet the growing electricity demand of Dominion Virginia Power customers.

"The stator's arrival puts one more big piece in place," said Charlie Scott, project manager at Virginia City. "This effort required a tremendous amount of teamwork, planning and coordination from numerous resources as well as local and state agencies in Virginia and Tennessee. Dominion greatly appreciates the efforts of all who made this accomplishment possible."

A jacking system was used to lift the stator into place on the fourth story of the station's turbine generator building. The generator's major moving part, the rotor, arrived earlier at the station.

The stator completed a 176-mile, two-week journey from a river port in Knox County, Tenn. The generator component was manufactured by Toshiba in Japan, shipped to Port Allen, La., and barged to a dock on the French Broad River east of downtown Knoxville, where it arrived in February.

The stator and the hauling rig that brought it to the power station construction site weighed a combined 640 tons. During the Virginia portion of its journey, the rig stretched for 265 feet and was 22 feet wide and more than 17 feet tall. The rig was powered by two trucks manufactured by the Pacific Truck and Trailer Co. – "Big Daddy" at 700 horsepower and "Big John" at 600 horsepower. Numerous state police vehicles, utility bucket trucks and escort vehicles of Barnhart, the heavy-haul company in charge of the move, accompanied the rig on its journey.

The rig provided a late-night or early-morning show for towns along the route. Residents brought out lawn chairs to await the rig's late-night arrival through their town and took pictures of the slow-moving caravan.

Barnhart manager Tim Fielder says the Knoxville-to-St. Paul haul was the longest of this weight in the company's 41-year history.  The hauling rig and its payload were also one of the largest loads to travel Virginia highways, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Tranportation images:

Installation images:

Update for March 2010 — Dominion power station continues on schedule

Work has moved forward on Dominion's Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center project over the past several weeks despite the "old-fashioned" winter that visited Southwest Virginia.

"The project is generally going to plan," said Mark Mitchell, Director-Fossil & Hydro Projects, for Dominion. "Most of the major [material and equipment] deliveries have been accomplished."

The overall project, which includes planning, engineering and construction, is now roughly 58 percent complete and remains on schedule for the start of commercial operations in the summer of 2012.

At the beginning of March, 1,335 people were employed on the project. Of that total workforce, 489 workers (or 36.6 percent) came from the local region, with Wise and Russell counties leading the way.

"We continue to employ good workers from Southwest Virginia," Mitchell said. The percentage of the project's workforce that comes from Southwest Virginia is higher than had been expected, he said. "They are good, hard workers."

The project has reached the milestone of 4 million man-hours worked without a lost-time accident. This milestone was reached as the transition from heavy steel erection to the installation of major internal components began at the project.

Recent major work has included boiler installation and the final preparation for the installation of the $1.8 billion power station's steam turbine and generator. Three-fourths of the major water-wall panels for one of the station's two 330-megawatt equivalent boilers had been raised into place by March 1.

Some of the bigger construction cranes, which have been an object of local curiosity, will be leaving the site later this year and the remaining structural steel will be hoisted into place. The station's permanent administration building, which will contain the control room, should be ready for occupancy later this year, too.

The high-voltage transmission line that will carry power from Virginia City to the regional grid via Appalachian Power's Clinch River station at Carbo is under construction and will be completed in October. In November, the energizing and testing of equipment will begin at Virginia City.

Construction hiring will continue on the project over the next few weeks until the total construction workforce nears 1,600 around mid-year. The hiring of the permanent operations staff also has begun. Preston Sloane, who most recently was station director at Dominion's Chesapeake Energy Center, has been named station director for Virginia City and is now living and working in the area.

Update for Jan. 8, 2010

2009 Construction Updates

Update for Dec. 16, 2009 — Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center Passes the Halfway Point

Dominion Virginia Power's Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center project in Wise County has passed the halfway point and remains on schedule.

Dominion, which operates Virginia's largest electric utility, is building a 585-megawatt power station at Virginia City to help meet the state's growing power needs. The station will be fueled by run-of-mine coal, waste coal and biomass in the form of wood chips.

More than 1,300 men and women are working on the project as of Dec. 1. Construction employment is expected to peak at around 1,500 next year.

Dramatic evidence of the construction progress is that only one level of steel remains to be erected to complete the framework for the 20-story-tall building that will house the station's two circulating fluidized-bed boilers. Also recently, the station's administration building has been topped out; three 13-story silos to house coal-combustion products have been poured; and workers have begun installing equipment in the station's coal, limestone and wood handling area. The station uses limestone to control sulfur dioxide emissions.

"Overall, we're about where we expected to be at this stage of the project," said Charlie Scott, Dominion site manager for construction at Virginia City. "We've certainly had our ups and downs, but not anything unexpected for a project of this size," he said.

Work on the $1.8 billion station began in the summer of 2008, and commercial operation is set to begin in mid-2012.

Preston Sloane, who was the station director at Dominion's Chesapeake Energy Center in Hampton Roads, has been named the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center's first station director. Sloane has occupied an office at Virginia City and has begun filling out his permanent operations staff.

Other major work on the power station that will occur over the next few months includes: installation of a large bridge crane in the turbine-generator building, continued excavation of the station's dry-ash landfill and preparation of the turbine-generator building for installation of the generator's largest stationary part, which weighs 354 tons.

Update for Oct. 30, 2009

Images show the progress as of October 2009. Ash silos have been erected behind the chimney and the fourth (and final) tier of boiler-building steel is being constructed.

Update for Aug. 25, 2009

Aerial images show the progress as of August 2009.

Update for June 25, 2009

Work on Dominion's Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center was roughly 30 percent complete by mid-June. Foundations had been completed for most of the coal-fired power station's major buildings and the erection of structural steel for the boiler and steam turbine/generator buildings was well underway. Employment on the site was nearing 800 with roughly 25 percent of those workers having been hired from the local area. Construction employment is expected to peak at around 1,500 workers in 2010.

Update for April 20, 2009

Work continues to progress steadily at Dominion’s Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center since construction began in July 2008. The images below show construction of turbine pedestals and the first steel beams being installed.

Update for Feb. 11, 2009

Aerial images show the progress as of February 2009.

2008 Construction Updates

Update for Dec. 22, 2008

Construction of the concrete shell for the chimney at Dominion’s Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center topped out Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 486 feet. Following a long-standing tradition in the construction trades, the topping out was marked by the placing of a Christmas tree and an American flag at the top of the stack. The pouring of the concrete shell began Nov. 11 and finished a week ahead of schedule.

Jens Lehnnhoff, site manager for Karrena International, the subcontractor that built the chimney shell, described the project as a "normal job." A chimney project typically takes a little longer in winter than in warmer months because the concrete must be heated to cure properly, he said.

Still ahead for Karrena is the pouring of the concrete top or roof for the stack six feet below the top of its walls and installation of steel flues and a permanent elevator inside the concrete shell. Steel flues will eventually extend 20 feet above the roof. The entire chimney project is scheduled for completion next October.

Update for Dec. 8, 2008

Update for Nov. 18, 2008

A major milestone was reached Nov. 11 when workers began pouring the reinforced concrete shell for the power station’s 500-foot chimney. In addition to the boiler flues, the shell will contain an elevator capable of carrying workers to the 460-foot level. The shell will be equipped with temporary aviation warning lights during its construction and permanent lighting once it is complete.

The structure will sit on a foundation that includes 16 concrete pilings, each sunk 106-feet into the earth. The shell’s construction will require roughly 12 million pounds of concrete and 1.2 million pounds of steel reinforcement bar.

Elsewhere on the construction site, work is underway on a road from the future power station to a lined and engineered landfill where ash from the station will be hauled in large, off-road trucks and buried. Also, work is approaching the halfway point on the pouring of 465 underground concrete piers that will help support the foundation for the station’s various buildings.

One of three major bridges that will be built on the station property is complete and work has begun on another. Work is also progressing on the below-ground concrete vault that will house the electrical equipment for the power station. Additionally, wrap-up is near on construction of acceleration and turn lanes on U.S. Route 58A at the entrance to the site’s material-handling area, where coal, waste wood and limestone for the station’s boilers will be stored. A large metal pole to support a traffic signal at the intersection has been erected.

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