A team of environmental groups, architects, urban planners, financial advisors, community groups and other organizations envisions transforming the site of a 60-year-old coal-fired power plant into a green, mixed-use community.
The $450-million plan for “Potomac River Green” was unveiled by the American Clean Skies Foundation (ACSF), a Washington, DC-based non-profit. According to the organization, the project would not only create a new use for the waterfront site that houses the Potomac River Generating Station (PRGS) in Alexandria, Virginia, but would benefit the local economy and help create 2,200 new jobs.
The proposal was initiated by Gregory C. Staple, ACSF’s chief executive, and developed after a year of work by a team of architects, urban planners, financial advisers and utility consultants.
“The Potomac power plant is no longer required to meet the DC area’s electricity needs and pollution from the plant has long posed a local health hazard,” Staple said. “But until now, no road map existed for phasing out this 60-year-old power plant and redeveloping the 25-acre site.”
He added, “Our plan shows that redevelopment is both feasible and affordable.”
The Potomac River Green plan features:
- 89,600 square feet of office space and 114,500 square feet of retail and restaurants;
- 467 multifamily and 96 townhouse units;
- Office space with a Clean Energy Enterprise Center to incubate alternative energy and new technology businesses;
- A working Energy Museum to demonstrate 21st-century energy technologies;
- A 125-room boutique hotel;
- A compressed natural gas (CNG) and fast-charge electric car refueling station for government, commercial fleet and individual vehicles;
- Enhanced access to water taxis and mass transit;
- Recreation and open space that will tie Daingerfield Island, a nearby federal park, into the Alexandria waterfront through new recreation space and an eco-trail system.
The plan calls for numerous energy-efficient building techniques, including reusing crushed brick from the plant in the concrete for paths, streets and gardens. In addition, the brick and steel framing from the existing power plant would be used in the commercial property. All construction will be LEED-certified with maximized use of green space through community gardens.
The Potomac River Generating Station is owned and operated by Houston-based GenOn Energy using land leased from Pepco. The plant is more than 60 years old, lacks critical emission controls, operates at 20 percent capacity, and is no longer needed for electric reliability purposes in Northern Virginia and the Washington, DC, area.
The scope for GenOn to retire the Potomac plant without adversely impacting the local power grid was the subject of a July 2011 ACSF report. The report also found that, on average, the electricity that would replace the output of the Potomac plant would be generated by less polluting sources.
ACSF’s plan for Potomac River Green contemplates transfer of the power plant site to private developers after the facility is retired and demolished by GenOn. The city of Alexandria and state environmental officials would oversee the site remediation process in cooperation with Pepco, which currently holds the ground lease for the property and is expected to keep an electrical substation on a portion of the site.
“We also know there are at least 20 other aging and highly polluting waterfront power plants across America in urban areas that may be good candidates for redevelopment in an economical and environmentally friendly manner,” Staple said, adding that the ACSF was releasing a new report on that subject, “Repurposing Legacy Power Plants.”