Navy Yard Gears Up For Growth With New Power Plant

 

The completion of this six megawatt peaker plant, and a two-megawatt expansion by the end of 2018, signals a shift in the increasing demand for power at the Navy Yard. | Photo: Michael Bixler

Redevelopment of the Navy Yard just received a healthy boost of energy—six megawatts to be exact. Today, representatives from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Ameresco, the U.S. Navy, the Mayor’s Office, and Mural Arts Philadelphia announced the completion of an $11 million natural gas-fired peaker plant with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This peaking plant allows the Navy Yard to continue to develop, expand, and attract new businesses and jobs to Philadelphia, support our smart energy initiatives, and provide greater energy security and resiliency,” said Prema Katari Gupta, Senior Vice President of Navy Yard Planning and Development at PIDC.

South Philadelphia’s burgeoning city within a city utilizes one of the largest private energy microgrids in the country, an electrical source that currently serves over 150 companies and 13,500 employees within the waterfront community. As redevelopment of the 1,2000 acre industrial and office campus surpasses $1 billion in public and private investment, so does the demand for power. The need for energy is expected to rise dramatically as the Navy Yard grows from 7.5 million square feet of active real estate to the projected 20 million square feet of development at full build-out. Anticipating a rise in immediate needs, a two-megawatt expansion of the new peaker plant is already underway to bring the total capacity of the plant to eight megawatts by the end of 2018.

“Completion of this project is a tremendous achievement for our city and the Navy Yard,” said Deputy Mayor Rich Lazer. “Not only does this peaking plant provide a reliable, innovative solution for ongoing energy requirements, but it is a great foundation to support significant future job growth as businesses continue to locate and grow in Philadelphia.”

Local artist Nate Harris and Mural Arts adds color to the industrial surrounds of the new power plant. | Photo: Michael Bixler

Ameresco, a renewal energy and energy efficiency company, designed, engineered, and built the new peaker plant. The company will provide long-term maintenance and operation of the utility. The plant will generate power and offset usage during peak demand, which will alleviate high-cost power and capacity from the grid. During extended grid outages, it will serve to provide critical support and resiliency services. It will also lessen peak load requirements to the grid. PIDC plans to use the energy plant to generate revenue to offset increased capacity costs by participating in the PJM Ancillary Services Market.

“Ameresco is extremely proud of our partnership with PIDC and we’re excited to complete this critical infrastructure project,” said Michael T. Bakas, Executive Vice President of Ameresco. “In order to support further load growth at the Navy Yard, Ameresco designed the project to allow for ease of growth.”

Wrapped around the fence surrounding the new peaker plant is colorful scrim designed by Philadelphia artist Nate Harris, who has installed a number of public art projects at the Navy Yard for Mural Arts Philadelphia. At the ceremony, Jane Golden, Executive Director of Mural Arts, discussed the organization’s artist engagement program down at the Yard. “As the Navy Yard continues to evolve and attract new visitors and companies, we are thrilled to continue our partnership with PIDC in order to bring beauty to this space and to shine a light on its historical significance.”  

About the author

Michael Bixler is a writer, photographer, and managing editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a former arts and entertainment reporter with Mountain Xpress weekly in Asheville, North Carolina and a native of South Carolina. Bixler has a keen interest in adaptive reuse, underappreciated architecture, contemporary literature and art, and forward-thinking dialogue about people and place. Follow him on Instagram



1 Comment


  1. From what I read, these are three massive natural gas engines: technology that has existed for many decades. Is there no waste heat recovery included in this project? Sure, a peaking plant allows for increased development of the Naval Yard. But this gets a low score for sustainability. I hope I’m missing something…

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