National Park Service gets air monitoring station

The National Park Service will recognize Southern Electric International Inc., Cogentrix Energy Inc., and Birchwood Power Partners L.P. June 28 for their contributions to the upgrade of Shenandoah National Park’s ambient air quality monitoring station.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the Big Meadows station site (Mile 51 on the Skyline Drive).

The companies are partners in the Birchwood power facility project, a 220-megawatt plant under construction in King George County, Va. The firms worked with Rust Environment & Infrastructure and the National Park Service’s air quality division on the upgrade of the facility.

“This dedication is part of Southern Electric’s commitment to preserving the environment, and it’s a good example of how industry and government can work together for the benefit of the community,” said Tom Dorsey, vice president of SEI Birchwood Inc., which owns 50 percent of the power generation facility. “As a resident of Virginia, it’s important to me that we meet or surpass all applicable environmental laws and regulations to help protect the environment.”

Shenandoah National Park Superintendent Bill Wade said partnerships such as the Birchwood alliance are a tremendous help in protecting park and state resources. “The new equipment at the air quality monitoring station should enable us to better document air pollution effects on water, soil and plants,” he said. “And this ultimately may help us reduce the damage to Shenandoah’s and the state’s nationally significant resources.”

“We’re proud to be a partner with these companies and proud to work together to help clean up the air,” Wade said. Southern Electric, a unit of The Southern Company, develops, builds, owns and operates power generation facilities and provides a broad range of technical services to industrial companies and utilities in U.S. and international markets.

The Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is also the parent firm of five electric utilities: Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Together, these companies make up one of the largest investor-owned electric utility groups in the United States.

The Birchwood plant will sell electricity to Virginia Power and will provide steam to Dominion Growers of Fredricksburg Inc. The plant design includes advanced emission controls to comply with air, water and noise regulations. Commercial operation is scheduled for 1996.

Established in 1936, Shenandoah National Park is a 300-square-mile natural and historic area in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The purpose of Shenandoah and other national parks is to preserve the nation’s resources for enjoyment today and for future generations. The Clean Air Act protects visibility and other air quality-related values associated with the park by designating Shenandoah as a Class I area. The air quality monitoring station at Big Meadows has been in operation since 1983.