03/12/11 — Progress Energy ready for transport of big equipment

View Archive

Progress Energy ready for transport of big equipment

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 12, 2011 11:27 PM

Periodic traffic delays of anywhere from three to seven hours can be expected along some southern Wayne County roads over the next several months as Progress Energy begins transporting large pieces of equipment to its new $900 million power plant on the Neuse River west of Goldsboro.

"We are entering a phase now in the construction process where we are going to be bringing in some very large components," said Dan Oliver, Progress Energy manager of community relations for the eastern region. "There is going to be a lot of that going on."

The first move had been scheduled for this past Saturday, but was delayed by scheduling conflicts with the railroad.

As of presstime today, Progress Energy officials were still uncertain when the move would be made. It could be as early as Monday, but more likely will be Tuesday, the officials said.

The date and times will be posted on the News-Argus website at www.newsargus.com.

"(Travel time) depends on what we are moving," said Chris Albers, project manager. "The eight very large transports, they are going to take longer. They are probably going to take seven or eight hours to get from Georgia-Pacific to our site.

"The other ones will be more like three or four. Literally you walk next to it. They go about 3 or 4 miles an hour."

The equipment, weighing up to 325 tons, will be transported on rigs as long as 110 feet, as wide as 20 feet and with as many as 18 axles.

About three-quarters of the larger, longer loads are expected to be made early on, Albers said.

The equipment will be offloaded at the rail siding at the Georgia-Pacific facility on the Old Mount Olive Highway at Dudley.

"Georgia-Pacific has been very gracious in allowing us to use their rail siding," said Drew Elliot, associate communications specialist.

The 12.2-mile route will take the rigs west on Sleepy Creek Road to U.S. 117 where they will travel north to U.S. 13 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. They will turn west onto U.S. 13 and then travel north on Providence Church Road before turning west on Old Grantham Road and finally north on Black Jack Church Road ending at the Progress Energy Lee Plant.

The return trip will be the reverse of that route and should move a little quicker, Albers said.

The equipment moves are being contracted out to a company that specializes in such moves, Elliot said.

Normally Progress Energy will have a three- to four-day lead time to notify the public of the dates when moves will be made, he said.

Albers said one of his initial questions was why the equipment couldn't be moved at night. However, there is no flexibility there because of the state Department of Transportation rules, he said.

Those rules require that the moves be made during daylight hours Monday through Saturday.

Wayne County sheriff's deputies and the Highway Patrol will be involved in traffic control during the moves.

"They will control the traffic flow not only in the sense when we get to an intersection but also they will control, based on their judgment whether cars can pass it on 117 and 13," Elliott said. "There is a possibility cars can pass it, but we don't make that decision. I think we should expect that cars won't be able to pass.

"Most of the rigs will take up only one lane. That may allow traffic to pass the rigs at some points along the route. However, some of the larger rigs will take up more than one lane making passing impossible."

The Highway Patrol will decide when it is safe for vehicles to pass.

The rigs will travel across some bridges or culverts that have been vetted by the DOT as being able to support the weight, Elliot said. The number of axles on the rigs distributes the equipment's weight over a larger area.

Also, sheets of metal will be placed at the culverts to further distribute the rig's weight.

"Another thing we have to pay attention to is the distribution lines and other utility lines long the road," Elliot said. "We push them up with a pole to get under them. Not only Progress Energy, but Time Warner Cable, AT&T. Everybody had been contacted coordinating these. We are not going to have to cut anybody's power along the route and actually take down a line."

The equipment will have large pieces of PVC pipe mounted on top with the ends sloping down in front to allow the lines to slide across, he said.

"For some of the larger ones, it looks like we are going to have to do some line work it appears to raise some lines," Oliver said. "There are some that impact us, but we are waiting to hear back from the phone company, particularly where there is some bulk cable that will need to be elevated. That work will be done prior to those kinds of pieces of equipment being moved."

The moves, which should be completed by October, are not expected to cause any power disruptions, he said.

"Of course we are not going to be doing this every day," Albers said. "It is going to be spotty. There are roughly about 60 transports that we are going to have to make for this project."

"There are periods where we could move two pieces of equipment a week," Oliver said.

It will be six months of inconvenience, followed by 60 years of Progress Energy property tax payments, Elliot said.

Construction engineering for the new power plant is about 70 percent complete, Albers said. About 10 percent has been completed on actual construction, mostly earthwork, he added.

The project should be in "earnest full blown construction" in April.

Progress Energy plans to permanently shut down the three coal-fired power plant units at the H.F. Lee Plant once it is replaced by a new, state-of-the-art natural gas-fueled facility at the site.

The project is expected to create up to 500 construction jobs over the two years it will take to build

The new plant should be online in 2013 when the area will be renamed the H.F. Lee Energy Complex.

Instead of venting hot exhaust gas, the gases will be recaptured to create steam to turn turbines to create more energy out of the same amount of fuel.

To supply the gas needed to feed the new plant, Piedmont Natural Gas will construct 38 miles of 20-inch pipeline along with additional compression facilities to provide natural gas delivery service to the plant by July 2012.

Piedmont's investment in the pipeline and compression facilities is estimated at $85 million and is supported by a long-term service agreement with Progress Energy Carolinas.