Lackawanna Energy Center
Best Project and Project of the Year Finalist
Engineer Procurement Construction Contractor & Lead Design Firm: Kiewit
Gas Turbine Original Equipment Manufacturer: General Electric
Owner’s Engineer: HDR
Embankment Engineer: Leidos
Equipped with some of the newest natural-gas-powered turbine technologies, this 1,500-MW facility can power more than 1 million homes, providing a highly flexible and reliable addition to the region’s energy grid.
This new technology from GE can generate up to 50 MW of energy per minute and ramp up to full load in 10 minutes. Along with the ability to respond quickly to variations in energy demand, the turbines’ unique configuration allows each unit to operate independently, providing greater flexibility for operations and maintenance.
Appropriately for a facility heralding a new era in energy generation, the energy center is located above an abandoned coal mine. Preparing the site for construction required excavation of 1 million yd of material, including a half-million yd of drill and shoot rock. The mine was then stabilized by pumping 33,000 cu yd of grout in 1,500 drilled holes up to 100 ft deep, creating a solid foundation for the plant.
ENR’s panel of judges was particularly impressed that a highly complex project that seemed so in touch with the issues and concerns of northeastern Pennsylvania was actually coordinated from EPC contractor Kiewit’s Midwestern headquarters. The effort resulted in “good quality and effective planning,” one judge said. “It was a great project.”
The project’s aggressive 28-month timeline incorporated a staggered construction sequence, with installation of turbine units getting underway three months apart using a common balance of plant systems. Though inherently complex, the tiered turnover strategy proved beneficial in providing lessons that improved performance as each unit moved forward. All three units were completed ahead of schedule and under budget, leading to the facility achieving substantial completion ahead of schedule.
Continual team-wide communication ensured a safe worksite from start to finish, with designated craftworkers assigned to monitor site-wide safety and mentor peers. Building on a site-specific safety plan, which clearly identified all safety expectations for anyone involved with the project, a Craft Voice in Safety program brought select craftworkers together as a committee of peers to participate in daily safety walks, listen to safety suggestions and meet with upper management. Committee members used those insights to continuously coach and mentor other craftworkers, promoting a safety culture across the project, according to the team.
In addition, a dedicated craft safety adviser with a craft background served as a full-time safety representative, frequently coaching and promoting all programs. The adviser completed hands-on training during orientations, led daily safety walks and mentored short-service employees.
ENR’s safety judges praised the Lackawanna team’s effort for not only developing a safety philosophy and setting expectations, but also for seeing that commitment through via coaching and other methods.
“Instilling the voice of the crews into their program provided buy-in from everyone involved,” the judges said. Indeed, the meticulously planned and executed safety program resulted in more than 3 million staff hours during construction with no lost-time injuries, complementing a successful effort to complete the project ahead of schedule and under budget.
Now operational, the facility excels at more than generating energy. Incorporated into its scenic mountain setting with carefully crafted landscaping and tree plantings, the LEED-Gold certified administrative and control building is 60% more efficient than conventional buildings, the team says, and equipped with rooftop solar panels. The energy center has benefited the community in other ways, with the project team’s participation in numerous community outreach and charitable activities.