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Posted on Tue, Dec 15, 2009 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor office of Black & Veatch honored for "green" power plant design

By Nathan Bomey

The 200-person Ann Arbor office of Black & Veatch, the global engineering consultancy and construction firm, played an instrumental role in the development of two power plants recently honored by a trade publication.

The awards reflect Black & Veatch’s focus on integrating environmentally friendly concepts into the design of the two power plants, said Kent Pollins, a senior vice president based in the local office.

"Power Engineering" magazine honored Black & Veatch with two awards: best gas-fired power plant for the Gateway Generating Station in Antioch, Calif.; and best coal-fired power plant for the Dallman Unit 4 project in Springfield, Ill.

The awards come as the Copenhagen climate change conference illuminates the likelihood that power plants will have to cut their greenhouse gas emissions due to future global warming policies.

Firms like Black & Veatch, headquartered in Kansas City, are positioned to reap benefits as utilities invest in cleaner power plants and renewable energy generation, including wind farms, solar panels, geothermal technology and biomass plants.

“In the present economic times, the demand for power is down. But when the economy comes back, I would say the more efficient and more environmentally friendly power plants will be in high demand, along with renewables,” Pollins said.

Black & Veatch’s latest awards honored the firm’s environmentally sound contributions to gas and coal plants.

The firm designed the 590-megawatt Gateway Generating Station for California utility Pacific Gas & Electric. The plant leverages air-cooled condenser technology to reduce the plant’s water usage by 98 percent and its wastewater streams by 99 percent.

Power plants typically use massive amounts of water - a major source of concern in hot communities.

“We didn’t use any water to evaporate, to cool the thermal cycle. It was all air cooled. That saved a tremendous amount of water,” Pollins said. “In California, water is precious."

In Springfield, Black & Veatch collaborated with Kiewit Power Constructors to design and build an energy-efficient plant that’s expected to save $12 million in first-year energy costs compared to other existing plants.

“The plant is (also) extremely efficient as far as emissions goes,” Pollins said.

Black & Veatch has about 100 offices worldwide with some $3.2 billion in revenue in 2007.

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter.