Fairfax County, Waste-To-Energy Facility

Posted on July 29, 2010

Client: County of Fairfax
Location: County of Fairfax, VA
Project Type: Waste-To-Energy Facility

Project Description

facility_thumbFairfax County’s four (4) boiler mass burn Facility is one of the largest Waste-To-Energy (“WTE”) Facilities in the country, processing 3,000 tons per day (“tpd”) of Municipal Solid Waste (“MSW”) and producing in excess of eighty (80) mw of electric power for sale (net of in-plant usage) to Dominion Virginia Power Company.  The Facility was designed and constructed and is operated by Covanta Fairfax, Inc. (“CFI”).  The project was financed by $237.2 million of tax-exempt revenue bonds, $14.9 million of taxable revenue bonds and $31 million of company equity.

Project Responsibilities

D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C. (“D&B”) began providing consulting engineering services to Fairfax County in March 1998.  The firm’s primary assignments to-date are as follows:

  1. Review of Solid Waste System Revenues and preparation of an Annual Review Report.
  2. Facility Operations Monitoring, Outage Inspections and operating and preparation of Annual Operations Reports.
  3. Review of Annual Air Quality Testing Protocols and Reports.
  4. Attendance at monthly operations meetings and responsibility for meeting record notes.
  5. Overview of ash testing, review of test protocols, and test reports.
  6. Preparation of a report in 2009 analyzing the impacts on Facility operations caused by the increase in electric generation beyond eighty (80) megawatts. The increase in electric generation beyond the eighty (80) megawatt limitation was allowed by an amendment to the Power Purchase and Operating Agreement with Dominion Virginia Power, based on the Facility’s new status as an Exempt Wholesale Generator.
  7. Preparation of a report in 2010, assessing the Facility’s existing operating and physical condition and identifying major maintenance, life extension, and operational issues to be addressed for continuous long-term operation following expiration of the Service Agreement term.
  8. Preparation of a report in 2013 reviewing all existing agreements and Facility permits and assessing the obligations on the part of the County and CFI that would extend beyond the end of the Service Agreement term.

The firm’s key activities under each Task are described below.

Review of Solid Waste System Revenues

D&B performs a comprehensive evaluation of relevant documents and information to assess the adequacy of the tipping fees and other revenue sources to pay project costs.  This includes the Service Agreement between CFI and Fairfax, all Amendments thereto, the County’s budget (and supporting analyses) for Facility operations, agreements with other jurisdictions for waste deliveries, power sales agreement, and relevant County solid waste collection and disposal ordinances.  D&B also reviews and assists in the development of waste quantity projections under existing agreements and the potential for obtaining waste from other waste sources.  The evaluation also includes a regional survey (150 mile radius) of tipping fees being charged at competing disposal facilities within an economic haul distance of Fairfax County.

D&B prepares a report on the results of the analysis and conclusions regarding the ability of the County to collect adequate revenues to pay its Facility debt service and operations costs for the ensuing fiscal year.

Facility Operations Monitoring, Outage Inspections, and Annual Operations Report

The firm makes monthly inspections of all aspects of the Facility to ascertain CFI’s compliance with the service agreement, regulatory requirements and accepted standards of industry practice. In addition, D&B is notified of scheduled and unscheduled outages. During scheduled outages, D&B personnel make internal and external inspections of all components of the Facility undergoing maintenance and repair. Upon receipt of notification of unscheduled outages, the firm’s staff makes inspections to determine the cause of the outage and CFI’s effort to repair the malfunction.

The firm’s personnel have analyzed the following operational issues at the Facility:

  1. Corrosion, leakage, and failure of water-cooled jackets around the waste feed chutes.
  2. Clogging of air pre-heaters.
  3. Excessive erosion of refractory surrounding the overfire air nozzles.
  4. Warping of stoker chassis frames.
  5. Premature failure of stoker grate bars.
  6. Failure of convection section ash hoppers.
  7. Reconfiguration of turning vanes at the top of the radiant section.
  8. Warping of sootblower brackets.
  9. Unreliable performance of ash extractors.
  10.  Deterioration in performance of shredders for oversize material and tires.
  11. Corrosion and failure of structural supports for scrubber towers.
  12. Moisture invasion and clogging of screw the conveyors, which run from the baghouses to the ash extractor.
  13. Proposal for carbon injection system for mercury control.
  14. Proposal for ash conditioning systems.
  15. Demonstration test of the effect of burning tires and reduced SO2 emissions limits on lime feed rates and “floaters.”
  16. Cooling tower blowdown water declorination for discharge to surface water.
  17. Review of dolomitic lime system operation.

D&B prepares the Annual Facility Operations Monitoring Report, which Fairfax County is obliged to prepare and submit to its Solid Waste Management Authority in compliance with the Facility financing agreements. This document reports on Facility operations for the previous fiscal year, assesses the adequacy of CFI’s operations and maintenance and recommends actions necessary to enhance operations reliability, improve environmental performance and reduce costs to the County.

Review of the Results of the Annual Air Quality Testing of the Resource Recovery Facility

A review is conducted of the annual stack test and the test report for the Resource Recovery Facility (“RRF”). The report is reviewed for conformance with the approved emission testing protocol and appropriate United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality emission sampling and test methods, including QA/QC procedures. The report is also reviewed to identify exceedances of any omission limit or monitoring parameter.

D&B has also assisted Fairfax County in reviewing and negotiating the technical and economic details of the addition of mercury control technology to the RRF.

Analysis of Operations Before and After the Generation and Sale of Electricity in Excess of Eighty (80) Megawatts – 2009

As a result of a change in status of the Facility under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) regulations, the Facility became an Exempt Wholesale Generator (“EWG”) in April 2008 and was no longer limited to the sale of up to eighty (80) megawatts of electricity. D&B prepared a report which examined operational issues that may be related to a sustained increase in electric generation and to evaluate electric revenues generated before and after an amendment to the Power Purchase and Operating Agreement addressing the increase in electric generation and sales. D&B analyzed monthly electric and steam generation, processing rates, and the County’s electric revenues before and after the increase in electric generation above eighty (80) megawatts and assessed the value of increased electric generation and the potential affect of increased generation rate on Facility availability and operating time.

I-95 Energy/Resource Recovery Facility
Evaluation and Assessment of Current State and Condition – 2010

D&B conducted a comprehensive inspection of the Facility to assess the operating and physical condition of plant systems and equipment, buildings, roadways, and infrastructure. D&B identified major maintenance and life extension issues related to future Facility operations for a twenty (20) year period beyond the initial Service Agreement term. D&B prepared a condition assessment report for the County’s use in evaluating the potential purchase of the Facility. In assessing the condition and future operation of the Facility, D&B conducted the following tasks:

  • Physical inspection of the entire Facility.
  • Assemble, review, and analyze operating parameters for the past ten (10) years.
  • Investigate the status of the licensing agreement between Covanta and Martin, GMBH to assess the future availability of proprietary components in the event the County purchased the Facility.
  • Summarize for the contractual and administrative items to be considered in evaluating the County’s potential acquisition of the Facility.
  • Prepare a detailed Facility equipment list.
  • Prepare a condition assessment report supported by a photographic record.

Assessment of Existing Agreements, Operating Permits, and Legacy Agreements – 2013

With the impending expiration of the Service Agreement between the County and CFI, the County engaged D&B to prepare a report identifying existing agreements and permits, and the obligations of each party which remain in a post-Service Agreement environment. D&B reviewed all existing agreements between the County and CFI, including the Service Agreement and amendments and agreements that involved other parties. These agreements included the Site Lease, the Lease Assignment, and the Power Purchase and Operating Agreement with Dominion Virginia Power. D&B also reviewed environmental permits held by CFI. D&B identified in its report to the County all areas in which CFI and the County may continue to have dependence on each other after the Service Agreement expires. These dependencies are related to the need for ash disposal space, wastewater discharge capacity, and service water needs for continued facility operation. D&B reviewed and summarized the following information as part of the Study:

  • Agreements between the County and CFI defining the development, construction, and operation of the Facility.
  • Agreements between the Fairfax County Solid Waste Authority and CFI “Conditional Sale and Security Agreement”).
  • Agreement of Lease between the District of Columbia and Fairfax County.
  • CFI’s Closure Plan.
  • Power Purchase and Operating Agreement between CFI and Dominion Virginia Power Company.
  • Agreement to Allow Generation in Excess of Eighty (80) Megawatts.
  • Other miscellaneous agreements between the County and CFI related to changes in operation of the Facility during the Service Agreement term.

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