Inside your county government
Lifting the Veil: A peek into the St. Charles Energy Center
The Economic Development Department works to support and promote the economic vitality of our county. The recently completed St. Charles Energy Center, one of the largest economic devel- opment projects in the county’s history, culminates a collaborative effort with our department, the Charles County Board of Commissioners, and several other county departments.
The St. Charles Energy Center is a natural gas-fired, combined-cycle power plant. It was developed by Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), a firm that provides power generation development services across the United States and Canada.
The St. Charles Energy Center creates high-paying jobs and involves significant private investment, yielding commercial tax revenue to the county. Situated on 76 acres on Billingsley Road in Waldorf, the center employs about 25 people with above-average annual salaries. More than 700 construction jobs were created at the peak of construction.
The project represents a significant investment. A group led by General Electric Energy Financial Services financed roughly $775 million, with about $500 million funding construction. With this investment, the center will be one of Charles County’s largest taxpayers.
The St. Charles Energy Center is one of the cleanest gas-fired plants in the nation. The plant uses waste heat to turn an additional turbine and generate more power, making it more efficient than a traditional gas-fired plant. The plant’s 725 megawatt capacity can generate enough electricity to power about 700,000 homes.
One key element negotiated between CPV and Charles County Government was the purchase of treated wastewater effluent, which the plant uses for cooling. CPV constructed a 14-plus mile reclaimed waterline between the Waldorf site and the county’s Mattawoman Wastewater Treatment Plant. This provides cooling without drawing from aquifers or other potable water sources, and reduces nitrogen and phosphorus discharges into local waterways — and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.
Large-scale economic development projects typically have long development time horizons, and St. Charles Energy Center is no exception. Initial work began in the late 1990s. In the following 15 years, hundreds of permits were reviewed and approved, millions in financing committed, electrical markets analyzed, and numerous agreements negotiated. By 2014, key elements were in place so the project could close on financing and begin construction.
Construction on the plant is now complete, commissioning is underway and operations are expected to begin in January. Ultimately, this project stands out not only for its economic benefits, but because it represents a collaborative effort between the private sector and government. Nearly every County Government department played a role in facilitating this project. Every commissioner board since the project’s inception has lent its support, including the current board of commissioners. The project developer also assumed the risk and commitments. These collaborative efforts made it possible to bring this high-quality asset to Charles County.
To learn more about new economic development projects and updates, visit www. MeetCharlesCounty.com.
Darrell Brown is the director of the Charles County Economic Development Department.