New Index Spotlights Spike in Powerplant Construction Costs

A new series of construction cost indexes for powerplant projects has recently been launched by the firm Power Advocate, Boston, Mass. ENR will publish its index for a 550-MW combined-cycle powerplant in its cost report.

The most recent PowerAdvocate cost index for a combined-cycle plant shows a year-to-year increase of 10.2%, well above the 3% to 7% tracked by other indexes for commercial buildings. Most of this is due to the surge in steel prices, which has a greater impact on powerplant work than commercial buildings, as well as increased demand for plant components, says Paul Schuster, managing director, who developed the index.

“We have seen a very sharp increase in our indexes driven by commodity prices, including a 32% increase in steel prices and an 18% increase in copper, Schuster says.

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  • The combined-cycle plant cost index can be broken down to 28.1% for the power island, 25.7% for construction labor, 18.1% for equipment, 15.8% for bulk material, 6.7% for civil infrastructure and 5.6% for engineering and construction management.

    PowerAdvocate says that its cost index for wind-power facilities in July was up 12% from a year ago, because of its higher usage of steel. In contrast, the PowerAdvocate cost index for coal powerplants rose just 4% in the last year, Schuster says.