On July 16, at 6:45 a.m., Florida Power & Light's 50-plus-year-old Port Everglades powerplant in Hollywood, Fla., came crashing down. The 1200-megawatt, oil-burning behemoth had become the latest chapter in one of today's biggest infrastructure stories—the nation's ongoing transition to cleaner energy sources. The occasion also cleared the way for new construction, in this case a $1-billion-plus natural gas-fired facility.
The early-morning spectacle, positioned next to Fort Lauderdale's international airport and the cruise-ship hub Port Everglades, drew widespread attention for FPL—which streamed the event live. National Geographic and other national media tracked the story.
Less noticed, to outsiders at least, was the work of the company that had orchestrated the massive takedown, D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. The Greensboro, N.C.-based contractor had actually been working on the job since the previous December. Taking down the giant, urban complex required every bit of that seven-month span to make it happen.
"That was all about planning," says Ken Tysinger, D.H. Griffin's corporate senior manager overseeing the Port Everglades job. Coordination with the port and the Fort Lauderdale airport was obviously critical. Working with Miami International Airport was also necessary because of an MIA jet fuel feeder line within 600 ft of the blast site.
Plenty of advance removal work set the stage for the implosion by "tripping" and demolishing the plant's precipitators and turbine generators. "Once we had the turbine generators removed, the boilers had a place to fall," Tysinger, says. "And once we removed the precipitators, the stacks had a place to fall."
With the stacks down, the wrecking firm could quickly start removing debris, thus easing the transition for the powerplant builder, Zachry.
FPL definitely noticed the efforts of the demolition contractor. "The team [D.H. Griffin] brought was one of the best and most knowledgeable in their field as proven out by our July 16th demolition event," says Dennis Donahue, FPL's construction project manager, via e-mail. "[They were] committed to our aggressive schedule and zero-accident policy, and with the help of [their] team, we were and continue to be successful on all accounts."
The national switch to new power sources is paying dividends for D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. right now. The company reported $136 million in Southeast-area revenue during 2012, enough to earn it sixth place on this year's Top Specialty Contractors ranking. Approximately 60% of the firm's work is related to industrial demolition, company officials say.
The firm is hardly a newcomer to the field. David Griffin Jr., company president—and son of the founder—says the contractor first started performing this type of work about 20 years ago. Now, D.H. Griffin is making the most of its extensive experience felling these kinds of structures, which Griffin says represents "a major opportunity for us right now."
The powerplant work shows no signs of slowing. Duke Energy recently hired the demolition company to take down two of its North Carolina plants, Plant Cliffside and Plant Dan River.
"It's a priority industry for us, easily for the next 10 years," says Brocke Walker, D.H. Griffin's business development officer. "The current political and regulatory climate is forcing utilities to make decisions on their fossil facilities."