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In our path toward achieving water security, we are committed to reducing water use by using low-water technologies at our power generation operations.
Our most recently constructed natural gas facilities (Warren County Power Station, Brunswick County Power Station, and Greensville County Power Station), one coal facility (the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center), and one older natural gas unit (Gordonsville) all use air-cooled condensers. Air-cooled condensers use significantly less water than once-through cooling systems and traditional wet cooling towers. The heat dissipates directly into the air instead of heating or evaporating water withdrawn from a natural source.
Warren County Power Station
Our Warren County Power Station estimates it will save 2.6 million gallons of water a year, as well as $60,000 annually on water purchases and disposal fees, thanks to a 2018 water conservation project. Historically, steam-blowdown sump pumps had cooling water running continuously. This cooling water is provided by a local municipality. With a few upgrades to the equipment design, water is now used only when the pumps are operating.
In 2019, the station identified a different style of pump that does not require cooling water. It is currently using one of these pumps in place of one of the two steam-blowdown sump pumps. Based on the results of this testing, the station hopes to be able to eventually eliminate all cooling water needs for the steam blowdown sump pumps. With one new-style pump, the station currently is saving an additional 1.4 million gallons of water.
Possum Point Power Station
Our Possum Point Power Station installed a closed-loop, refrigerant-based system to reduce cooling-water use. The new system pumps propylene glycol through the sample coolers and then through a refrigeration unit, rather than using filtered water from the Potomac River. This system enhancement resulted in permanent reduction in water use of nearly 5 million gallons per year.
Hopewell Power Station
In 2018, a creative group of employees at Hopewell Power Station designed and implemented a water reuse project to recycle cooling water. In 2019 the new recycling system saved nearly 33 million gallons of water and saved more than $69,000 in water purchases.