Panda Power buys 750MW power plant in Virginia

The Dallas-based private equity firm has acquired a majority stake in Stonewall, a natural-gas fuelled power station that will be built in Virginia’s Loudoun County.

Panda Power Funds has acquired a majority interest in a 750-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle power plant that will power approximately 750,000 homes in Northern Virginia and the Washington DC metropolitan area, the Dallas-based private equity firm said in a statement on Tuesday.

The facility, which has not yet been built, is expected to be operational in the spring of 2017, eliminating the need for Loudoun County to import 100 percent of power, as it does currently.

Panda Power is partnering with Bechtel Development, a subsidiary of engineering and construction firm Bechtel Corp, and with Green Energy Partners/Stonewall, the project’s original developer.

“The state-of-the-art Stonewall facility will utilise the latest, most advanced emissions-control technology, making it one of the cleanest, most efficient natural gas-fuelled power plants in the nation,” according to a statement by Panda Power.

The facility will be located on a 101-acre site and will be built along existing transmission lines so that additional power lines will not be needed. It will use reclaimed municipal waste water as a coolant and will be a “zero-liquid-discharge” plant, returning no waste water to a treatment facility.

Its location, four miles south/southeast of Leesburg, Virginia, is strategic according to the private equity firm given that Loudoun County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the US with its population growing 84 percent between 2000 and 2010 according to census data.

The region is also home to the Dulles Technology Corridor, “a national hub for data storage, defense and technology companies”. According to Panda Power, about 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic flows through Loudoun County.

Panda Power expects that the power plant will also benefit the region from an economic perspective, generating an estimated $20 million per year in direct and indirect spending, increasing the tax base in Loudoun County and Virginia through property and sales taxes, and generating significant annual revenue for the Town of Leesburg through the purchase of waste water.

It expects that 600 jobs will be created during the peak construction phase of the plant, while 30 long-term jobs will be created once the facility is operational.

Founded in 2010, Panda Power has invested in four combined-cycle power plants totalling 3,103 MW, currently under construction in Texas and Pennsylvania. It has also invested in a 20MW solar project in operation in New Jersey and is developing an 859MW power plant in Maryland.