Garrison Energy Center fired up in Dover

The Garrison Energy Center, along White Oak Road in Dover, recently began operation, producing up to 309 megawatts of electricity when in peak production, equating to enough electricity for 300 homes.  (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

The Garrison Energy Center, along White Oak Road in Dover, recently began operation, producing up to 309 megawatts of electricity when in peak production, equating to enough electricity for 300 homes. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Calpine’s new Dover energy plant, under construction for the past two years, is open and on course to start producing electricity.

“We’re open for business, said Stu Widom, Calpine’s director of government and regulatory affairs, last week.

“We’re testing some systems, as we went online a few days ago, but we’re commercially available.”

The Garrison Energy Center is a combined cycle plant that primarily will fire with natural gas and utilize its exhaust to create additional steam power, producing 309 megawatts of electricity when in peak production. That equates to enough electricity for 300,000 homes.

“We will bid our power into the PJM wholesale grid,” Mr. Widom said.
PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

PJM purchases power through a daily bidding process, making decisions based on cost and efficiency.

A megawatt is enough electricity to power 800 to 1,000 homes in PJM, a power region serving 60 million people in 13 states in the Middle Atlantic, Midwest and the District of Columbia.

“There are still systems that need to be evaluated that we will continue to look over the next month or two,” Mr. Widom said. “We will continue to fine-tune and optimize everything.”

Some residents near the plant, in the Garrison Oak Technical Park on White Oak Road, might have thought the plant already was online because of loud noises from the facility, Mr. Widom said.

The unusual noise lasted for a few days, as the plant produced steam.

“We used steam to clean various components such as valves and pipes to remove construction debris including sand, dust, slag or scale,” Mr. Widom said.

“Everything has since been back to normal and residents shouldn’t have to worry about any loud noises disturbing them.”

At most, the plant will produce 200,000 gallons of wastewater in a day, Mr. Widom said, but generally only a small fraction of that figure will enter the county’s wastewater system because of the water recycling effort.

Dover city manager Scott Koenig said the upcoming city budget estimates Dover stands to receive about $1.6 million in new water and wastewater fee revenue from Calpine.

“We’re their suppliers of water and sewer,” Mr. Koenig said. “When they make power it goes directly out the grid and doesn’t come through the city’s system.

“In the budget for next year we’re planning to sell them about $1.6 million (worth) of water,” he said. “We plan to sell them several hundred thousand dollars of sewer.”

“We’re very hopeful that we sell them at least $1.6 million of water next year because that’s how we planned it for this year’s budget.”

Several years ago Calpine bought the rights to an already-planned gas-fired generating facility at the Garrison Oak Technology Park.

Dover City Council authorized a $6 million bond for infrastructure improvements and Calpine obtained a $2.5 million grant from the state of Delaware to build a natural gas pipeline.

“There is a lease payment of the land the city still owns,” Mr. Koenig said. “The land the plant sits on brings us in about $50,000 a year. Their goal is commercial availability and our goal is to finish the infrastructure out there and make it available to other customers.”

The Garrison Oak Technology Park, in addition to the energy center, now includes the 103-acre Dover Sun Park which has 34,000 solar panels that can produce 100 megawatts. It is owned by White Oak Solar LL, a division of LS Power.

Around the outer horseshoe of Garrison Oak Drive, within the technology park, a new plant for flooring company, Uzin Utz, is under construction on a 10.8-acre lot.

Uzin Utz is a German family-run company that specializes in professional installation systems for all types of floor coverings, leveling compounds, damp-proofing systems, adhesives for textile, resilient coverings and wood flooring.

“We’re getting close,” Mr. Koenig said. The new infrastructure at Garrison Oak Park is all positive revenue for the city.”

Arshon Howard is a freelance writer living in Dover. E-mail comments to

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