Bechtel, one of the world’s largest construction companies, is building an advanced natural gas-fueled electrical generating plant in Leesburg, Va., to create enough electricity for nearly 800,000 homes.
Known as the Stonewall Energy Center, the plant is another piece of infrastructure to support Loudoun County’s increasing role as a nexus of business and technology.
Loudoun is home to a growing number of energy-hungry data centers, a key element in fueling the digital revolution and the Washington-area economy.
The Stonewall project, which celebrated its groundbreaking Aug. 6, is set to spawn 800 construction jobs while it is being built and will employ 30 full-timers when it goes online in mid-2017.
San Francisco-based Bechtel is performing the engineering and fitting out the plant, which will cost just under $800 million, according to estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Bechtel sold its interest to Panda Power Funds, a Dallas-based private-equity firm that has several billion dollars in natural gas power plants under construction across the United States.
Panda is now sole owner of the project.
Nearby natural gas pipelines and electrical power lines should enhance the facility’s efficiency and profitability, as the giant turbines turn the gas into electricity using the latest emissions-controlled technology. It is said to be one of the cleanest plants of its kind.
“It will sip natural gas,” Panda Power spokesman Bill Pentak said. “We don’t have to build poles and wires, and the local people love that.”
The energy is to be used in Virginia and in the District of Columbia.
Earlier this year, Bechtel relocated 700 employees from Maryland to Fairfax County. The company was the lead partner of the group that built the first phase of Metro’s Silver Line, which will eventually link Dulles International Airport with the rest of the Metro system.
Bechtel is a 117-year-old company that has helped build some of the world’s most iconic structures, from the Hoover Dam to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to the Channel Tunnel between England and France.