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GenOn Dismantles Plant but Company Merger Slows Process

GenOn is aggressively disassembling its plant in North Old Town, but must wait for a company merger before making key business decisions.

GenOn is aggressively dismantling the Potomac River Power Generating Station in Alexandria but plans for its future are temporarily on hold until the firm completes its merger with Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy.

When completed, the merger will create the nation’s largest electricity generator and include a portfolio of fossil, solar, nuclear and wind facilities. The deal is expected to close by the first quarter of 2013, according to an NRG news release.

Phase One of the Potomac River plant deactivation is scheduled to be completed mid-2013 with Phase 2 beginning “in earnest” with completion of the merger, said GenOn Vice President for Asset Management Misty Allen on Thursday night.

The company must complete a financial analysis of the site to determine whether it’s economically feasible for the company to demolish it or “just better to maintain it,” she told the North Old Town Independent Citizens Association.

Should the company “make a big decision, we’ll probably put together a request for proposals,” Allen said.

GenOn is currently removing the plant’s hazardous combustible materials and draining oils as well as installing security cameras around the facility, she said.

The plant was previously connected on its 25-acre waterfront site to a Pepco generating station. It has disconnected from the Pepco substation and become a regular, retail customer of Pepco to power its security cameras and other basic needs while it continues to dismantle the plant.

The bulk ash has also been removed from the tall silos and the company is in the process of cleaning the silos, she said.

There are two 25,000-gallon underground fuel oil tanks that will be left underground for the time being, but are being decommissioned through draining, flushing and sealing with an inert material. The oil is being moved to another GenOn power plant. “We are recycling,” Allen said.

The decommissioning process must be done with approval by the city, and Allen said the firm would be filing an application soon.

She said removing the fuel tanks now would cause structural damage but “they will be removed when all is said and done at the end of the day.”

The plant currently has nine locations where it’s allowed to discharge into the river. Eventually, those will be reduced to one, which will discharge only storm water.

GenOn also has pipes on land owned by the National Park Service, which has asked the firm to “remove anything non-natural" from their property, Allen said to the packed room at the Best Western Old Colony Inn. The NPS owns an easement near the plant for the bike path, which it bought from Pepco years ago.

The firm is currently scraping the coal yard until “native soil” is exposed, which it's finding is about six to 18 inches from the surface. “We’re refilling it with clean fill, grading and seeding it with native grasses,” she said.

By mid-2013, the plant will have a roving maintenance team monitoring the site.

Pepco owns the 25-acre site that the GenOn plant sits on. GenOn’s lease on the land extends for more than 80 years.

Its substation on the site takes up about 3.5 acres and the company plans for the substation to remain there indefinitely.

For more information on Pepco’s plans in north Old Town discussed at the NOTICe meeting, see .

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