Eleven OCEA Honor Awards were announced in January 2022, and the winner and two runners-up were recently announced as part of ASCE’s 2022 Convention at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.
“These trophy winners are redesigning communities, improving mobility, and positively impacting the environment for the generations to follow,” said Dennis D. Truax, ASCE President. “Civil engineers are problem solvers, but they are also vision creators. These projects blend beauty with function and will elicit inspiration in the future workforce.”
WREC, which integrates with Alliant’s 4 MW solar facility, is adjacent to the existing Riverside Energy Center and on the western edge of the company’s 315-acre energy campus in Beloit. The new facility uses the latest 2-on-1 combined cycle technology and emits less than half the carbon dioxide, two-thirds less nitrogen oxides, and 99 percent less sulfur dioxide and mercury than traditional coal-fired plants.
“This new facility meets Alliant Energy’s long-term customer energy needs and replaces power from the retirements of older, smaller, and less efficient coal-fired and peaking units,” said Bob Newell, Senior Manager of Strategic Projects for Alliant Energy. “It also complements Alliant Energy’s growing investments in renewable energy detailed in Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint for Wisconsin. The generating station’s technology allows it to adjust up and down quickly to ensure reliability day or night, sunny or cloudy, windy or calm. That flexibility and rapid response to changing needs is what makes West Riverside so special and such a critical component to our overall energy portfolio.”
In addition to WREC’s combined-cycle technology, this project also utilized a unique water treatment system to reduce water use, maximize wastewater reuse within the facility, reduce phosphate discharge levels, and protect the nearby Rock River. Other benefits to the community included 67 acres of restored natural habitat; 12 miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails; and an Energy Lab that offers interactive public education about the benefits of the preserve and how nature works in unison with the WREC.
During the integration of the new facility with the existing Riverside Energy Center, the project team delivered triple-bottom-line efficiencies by incorporating the extension of an existing natural gas supply line, and enhancing an existing horizontal collector well and new wastewater discharge outfall. This reduced the total construction footprint by using existing assets and avoided the siting and construction of new infrastructure.
Between 2017 and 2020, the WREC project created more than 1,000 total construction jobs per year. The estimated total economic impact during construction was more than $250 million, and the facility is set to generate millions of dollars annually.
- Owner: Alliant Energy
- Owner’s engineer/sustainability consultant: HDR
- Engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor: United Engineers and Constructors (formerly AECOM)
- Key subcontractors: Westphal, Boldt Corp., JP Cullen, Hooper Inc., and Rock Road