Constellation to build $100 million power plant

Gas-fired facility to open in June 2001

Utilities

June 13, 2000|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Constellation Power Source Inc. said yesterday that it will construct a $100 million, natural gas-fired power plant near Bristol, Va. - the beginning of what its parent calls the biggest power plant construction program in the history of the company.

The 250-megawatt plant is expected to begin operating in June 2001, officials said. Site clearing for the 10-acre plant will begin at the Bristol-Washington County Industrial Park this month. The plant will employ fewer than 10 workers, the officials said.

"We're building power plants in areas where it makes strategic sense," said Charles W. Shivery, Constellation Power president. "Clearly there's a need in this market for additional electricity and that's just one of the reasons we choose to build here."

Constellation Power markets and trades electricity in wholesale power markets across the United States. It is a subsidiary of Constellation Energy Group, the parent of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

The company recently has placed orders for almost a dozen gas-fired power plants producing about 5,100 megawatts of energy in states including Florida, Illinois and Texas. Some of those plants will begin operating in summer 2001.

The new power plant will be a "peaking" unit, meaning it will be designed to provide electric power when customer demand increases dramatically, especially during summer and colder winter months, said Gina Molz, the project manager.

During July's heat wave, system emergencies, brownouts and rolling blackouts were typical for parts of the East Coast as electric utilities and power companies struggled to balance demand with supply.

There have been warnings that this summer's weather also could strain the region's power grid, which provides electricity to 23 million people from New Jersey to Virginia.

Yesterday, Constellation's shares closed at $34.125, up 12.5 cents.

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