CPV breaks ground on gas plant

CPV Director of Development Nate Rushing, left, Charles County Commissioner Debra M. Davis, Del. Sally Y. Jameson, Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Toyota Tsusho executive adviser Hiroshi Toyoda, CPV CEO Doug Egan, Marubeni President and CEO Toshi Fukumura, CPV President Gary Lambert and CPV Vice President of Development Don Atwood break ground Tuesday on a $775 million, 725-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Waldorf. - Credit: Staff photo by JEFF NEWMAN

Charles County officials, business leaders and labor representatives joined executives of a Maryland company and its two Japanese corporate partners Tuesday to break ground on a long-awaited $775 million natural gas-fired power plant in Waldorf.Hosted at the plant’s St. Charles site along Billingsley Road near the county landfill, the ceremony served as a collective exhale for county officials, who have been working to locate a power plant on the site for more than a decade, and Silver Spring-based Competitive Power Ventures, which joined the project in 2007.“This has been a long road,” CPV CEO Doug Egan said. “CPV first initiated development almost eight years ago, and it’s great to see what’s going on outside right now.”The 725-megawatt CPV St. Charles Energy Center — being built in partnership with Japanese corporations Marubeni and Toyota Tsusho — is expected to produce enough electricity to power 700,000 homes and support between 350 and 400 jobs during its construction, as well as 24 permanent jobs once completed. CPV estimates the plant will come online between June 2016 and June 2017.“Wow, it has been a long time coming,” Del. Sally Y. Jameson said. “I’ve been a delegate now for 12 years, going into my 13th year, and it didn’t seem like very long after I became an elected official that this project kind of started peering over the horizon.”Jameson (D-Charles) thanked CPV and its partners “for being so diligent.”“It just seemed like it would never happen, and we knew it would be good for Charles County,” she said.Egan noted the plant is the first natural-gas, combined-cycle generation facility to be built in the state since it deregulated its electricity market in 1999. “As a Maryland company, that makes me very proud, that we can do this,” he said.Egan credited Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), Maryland Energy Administration Director Abigail Ross Hopper, Maryland Public Service Commission, Maryland Department of the Environment, U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th), state Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles) and Jameson with helping bring the project to fruition.Expected to become one of the county’s largest taxpayers at a time when the county is facing annual budget crunches, the plant is projected to generate $128 million over 20 years in payment, connection fees, water and sewer fees, income taxes and reclaimed water sales.“This is a great Christmas gift for Charles County and the state of Maryland,” Middleton said. The Maryland Public Service Commission greenlighted the project in April 2012 when it ordered three major state utilities to purchase power from the plant. In its decision, the PSC determined the state would require an additional 650 to 700 megawatts of electricity generation by 2015.But the project was delayed by a pair of lawsuits — one filed by the three utilities challenging the commission’s authority to require purchasing contracts, and another by other electricity generators within the PJM Interconnection grid, the power transmission system spanning 13 states and Washington, D.C.The plant will reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions “by approximately 99 percent” compared to coal-fired plants, Egan said. “In addition, CPV St. Charles will also mitigate all air-quality impacts with offsets at a ratio higher than what the facility will emit, creating a net benefit for the environment,” Egan added.The plan also will use reclaimed sewage water to cool itself, reducing annual nitrogen and phosphorous discharges into the Potomac River by up to 18,700 and 1,110 pounds, respectively.jnewman@somdnews.com