HISTORY AND DEVELOPMEl^IT
BUZZARD POINT STATION
P0T01.IAC ELECTRIC POWER COllPANY
CHARLES F. JANES
Presented As Requirement
Maryland Beta Chapter
Tau Beta Pi Association
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE BUZZARD POINT STATION
POTOLIAC ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY
Since t896 Washington has teen served "bj the Potomac
Electric Power Company, which bought out all of Its competi-
tors and built the present plant at Banning in T906. This
initial installation of 25,000kw. was added to, from tinie to
time, to keep up with the growing demand for power until it
was developed to the greatest extent, to which it could be
operated economically in 193T, when it had a total capacity
of 208,000 kw. In March T933, the 230,000 volt line connect-
ing Washington with the Safe Harbor hydro-plant on the Sus-
quehanna was put into service, InBuring Washington a reliable
supply of povrer under all circumstances. To keep pp with the
demand, plans were drawn up for a new plant, which it was fin-
ally decided to build at Buszard Point in Southwest Washington.
This plant was opened in November 1933 as a base load station
with a capacity of 35,000 kw. Because of its modem design
and the fact that it operates as a base load station. Buzzard
Point operates at a much higher efficiency than any other unit
of the Potomac Electric Power Company.
HISTORY AND DE\^ELOPMEFT OF THE PUZ2ARD POINT STATION
POT CMC ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY
Prom the' Initial Installation at Bennlng In t906 of
5-5|000 kw. , vertical type tiirbine- generators there have "been
frequent additions and Improvements of equipment with subse-
quent removal of otsolete units, until the addition of a new
30,000 kw. imit in 1931 completed the economic development of
this station. The total capacity of Bennlng was now 208,000 kw.
which, Bincb the removal of the old plant at I4th and B Streets
was the total source of power for the District of Columbia and
With an eye toward improving the reliability as well
as the quantity of service, p modern 230,000 volt transmission
line was built to connect with, the line from Baltimore to the
Safe Harbor hyrdo-plant on the Susquehanna river in March 1933»
It was realized that the Banning plant was subject to river
conditions, as happened on March 2, 1914 vfhen it was forced to
shut down bacauee an extra low tide left it without adequate
condensing water; and again, on August 23, 1933 it was drowned
out by flood, end the new inter- connection with Safe Harbor
showed its worth. A maximum load of 60,000 kw. can be taken
from Safe Harbor or sent to Baltimore in case of lov; water in
As early as January 1931 plans were considered for
"building a new steam plant to operate in conjunction with
Bermlng. The site for the new plant was considered very care-
fully. The number of possible. site a finally came down to three:
Siesboro Point on the south side of the Anacoetla river, site
of the old wartime steel plant; some point on the Virginia side
of the Potomac above Alexandria; and Buzzard Point on the north
side of the Anacostla river, near the Army Yfar College. Objec-
tions to the first tv;o were that cables would have to be laid
across the river to the main load centers, and that they are
farther from these load centers-
Other advantages of Buzzard Point arej an ample sup-
ply of condensing water is available; coal or other fuel can
be brought by rail or water; and the area is zoned for indus-
trial purpoaea. The fact that Buzzard Point was in line for
future development as a park called for careful consideration
of architectural design.
The deai^ called for an initial installation of one
35 1 000 kw, unit and two boiler units, with space for another
similar unit, the tv/o to be operated from separate boilers.
Construction was sto,rted late in 1932 and the sta-
tion put In operation as a base load station in conjunction
with Benning and Safe Harbor on November T6, 1933* The total
cost of the plant approximated ^5,000,000.
The ultimate development of the site will Include
four more 50,000 kw. generators for a total capacity of
FSATURES OF THE STATION
The arrangement of the boiler operating room and tur-
bine room is such that the operators of one are easily accessible
to the other. The boiler units are Bab cock and Wilcox single
pass. Ions crossdrum 72 in. by 35 ft. 6 in. t.ype designed to bum
a variety of coals, fuel oil or natural gas. Tfest Virginia coal
Is used at present. Boiler pressure of 650 lb. and temperature
at the tiorblne throttle of 835 deg.F. allow maximum efficiency
T^ith a great degree of reliability. A simple regenerative cycle
with three stage bleeding for feed water heating is used.
Because of the probability of rapid fluctuation in
load when naming a steam station in parallel with a hydro- sta-
tion, the boilers were designed to give maximum "pick up" ability
from low load conditions.
Due to its proxlnilty to the many public "buildinss of
the Mall, It was extremely important to eliminate smoke ctodi4
tions. For this purpose the stack is provided with a Cottrell
eleotro-statlc precipitator in addition to comolete automatic
The boilers are each provided with two Riley mills
and six burners. The present capacity of the boilers is 375»-
000 lb. of steam per hour, representing nearly t2,000 boiler
horse power. The boilers are completely water cooled and equip-
ped with a slag screen Just above the burners, composed of stag-
gered tubes covered with refractory material, which causes the
slag to run down and drip off Into the pit. The burners are
fired downward so that the flame impinges on the slag at the
bottom causing the larger particles to be thrown off. The
superheater is arranged in two sect lone with a desuperheater
between, to control the temperature of the steam as It leaves
The turbine is a single cylinder, eighteen stage
General Electric unit rated at 35,000 kw. at t,800 r.p.m. It
Is set crosswise of the turbine room over a 30,000 sq.ft. Inger-
soll-Rand condenser of the single- pass, two- compartment type.
Bleeding for feed water heating Is done from the 7th, Ttth and
I4th stages. The heaters are Foster-'«Yheeler direct contact type
requiring a pump for each heater.
The generating unit Is a General Electric unit rated
at 38,888 kva. at 90^ power factor, 60 cycles, T3,800i, volts.
The exciter unit consists of direct connected main and pilot
exciters, A spare motor driven exciter of 200 kw. capacity is
installed for use in emergency. The generator is air coaled
using river water as the cooling medium.
The lubrication system is very Interesting. With the
use of high temperature steam the danger of fire from leaking
oil became increasingly great. There have been several disas-
trous fires due to this cause. With this in mind the designers
of Buzzard Point incorporated a system whereby much danger is
eliminated. All high pressure oil lines are enclosed inside low
pressure return lines, thereby greatly reducing the danger of
leakage. All the oil pumping equipment is located in a small
fireproof room under the turbine itself. It is protected by a
Lux carbto dioxide automatic extinguishing system and is com-
pletely enclosed "by Itself. There Is a separate room for oil
storage, cleaning and filtering, which is protected by a steam-
The station auxiliaries are all driven by electric
motors with the exception of one feed water pump, which is driven
by a 700 horse power, single stage non- condens Ing turbine for
use in emergency. This turbine is capable of gaining full speed
from cold start in 30 seconds. The three feed pumps are seven
stage centrifugal ptjmps each capable of handling hot vmter s.t
357 deg.F. at the rate of 800 gallons per minute.
Since ultimately each boiler will operate a single
turbine all the auxiliaries are grouped separately. A 4,000 kva.
13,800/2,300 volt, three phase transformer supplies the auxilia-
ries of each main unit.
All except the smaller motors and the ooal handling
motors are 2,300 volt units, the others being 440 volts. The
forced draft fa.ns are run by constant speed squirrel cage motors,
speed control of the fans being done by hydraulic couplings.
These couplings give wide range control with high efficiency.
The speed Is controlled by changing the oil level in the coupling.
The electrical equipment Is concentrated at one end of
the building. The top floor houses the switch-board room , in
which the main switch-board, automatic voltage control unit and
station battery charging set are located. The switch- board is of
the bench type with vertical back panel. The various indicating
instruments and control switches are located here. In back of
the main switch-board on a separate panel are the various relays
and recording instruments. Located In a glass enclosed room off
the main switch- 'board room le the automatic voltage regulator
equipment, which is of the FA-4 type. The battery charglns e-
qulpment is at one side of the control room , separated "by an
iron cage •
The two main 13»800 volt busses occupy the fourth
floor of the electrical bay. They are enclosed in reinforced
concrete structures, as are the oil circuit breakers and dis-
connect switches located on the third and fifth floors. These
oil circuit breakers are G-eneral Electric imits rated at t,500,-
000 kva rupturing capacity and have sji arc-ruptiaring time of
8 cycles compared to e 60 cycle timing wave. The disconnects
are all of the remote mutual gang operated except the H tie
disconnects which are motor gang, operated and controlled from
the main switch- "board. On the second floor are the feeder re-
actors, rated at 5%, On the first floor are the out-going feed-
er disconnects and potheads, and the cable test bus. The station
service control swltch/feoard is located between the turbine
room and the boiler- operating room. From it are controlled the
auxilliarles of the plant.
Buzzard Point is tied in with Benning by a J3tv tie-
line and with Takoma by another 53 Irv line thro-ugh SUB- 13, lo-
cated at 135th and Harvard streets. Six 13,800 volt feeders
connect with SUB- 16 in the downtown area, direct from the sta-
tion busses. Another 13,800 volt serves the Bureau of Engrav-
ing and Printing. The 13,800 volt feeders are of the three con-
ductor, 350,000 circular mil type H cables. The transformer
system for the 33 kv tie- lines consists of three 20,000 kva
transformers, two of vrhich are phase changers.
Because of the danger of the load being dropped In
case of a 3-phase fault in the "busses of one of the substations
these busses were split at SUB- 13, SUB-T6, and SUB-5, Buzzard
Point feeds both parts of the busses at SUB- 13 and SUB- 16 with
separate cables therefore Insuring continuance of service in
case of a fault. SUBS- 13 and 5 connect with Takoma and thence
to Safe Harbor, therefore It Is important that they be free
from disturbance. SUB-16 is Important because it serves the
main business district of the city as well as the G-ovemment
buildings of the Mall.
20,000 kva, 13, 800/33,000 volt transformers
at Buzzard Point Plant
The archetecture of the building is simple and pro-
mises not to mar the beauty of ejny future development at Buzzard
Point. The 90 ft. building looks somewhat modernistic with its
high windows, square comers and octagonal stack, which Is 180
ft. high. The construction is of steel, "brick and concrete "block
and is finished In a dull white shade. The station was designed
and "built by Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation in co-
operation with Potomac Electric Power Company officials and en-
OPERATION OF THE PLAMT
Since Buzzard Point Station has been In operation it
has shown very high efficiency due both to its careful design
and to the fact that it Is operated as a base load station.
The great Increase of efficiency over the older units at Bennlng
is shown by the accompanying chart. The best efficiency of the
old vertical 5,000 kw. units at Bennlng was about 2.05 Ihs. of
coal per kwh. while Buzzard averaged for the year 193^».888 lbs.
per kwh, ajid in 1935.. B81 IT^s. per kwh.
Following are a few statistics for these years:
Gross generation 202,267,000 222,886,000
Station service 11,266,700 11,740,900
Net generation 191,000,300 211,145,100
Hours of operation 7|746 7* 515
Coal burned (lbs.) 169,782,500 186,628,100
BTU/lbs. coal 14,305 14,195
Lbs. coal/kwh. .888 .881
Overall boiler efficiency 84,28 85.7
It is Interesting to note how the efficiency goes up
as the steam pressiire Increases. The older imlts were operated
at 200 Its, and then Improvements of design made It possible to
operate safely at 400 lbs. which led to greater economy. At
present the highest pressure, with Its accompanying high tem-
peratxjLre, that can be used safely with the metal available is
around 65O lbs,, which is that used at Buzzard Point. Other
contributing factors to the high efficiency of the station are
use of pulverized coal fuel with Its ease of combustion control,
and the use of an air preheater and three stage bleeding for feed
Buzzard Point Plant, as a whole strikes me as being
a well designed plant from the standpoint of ease of operation
and efficiency. Very few men are needed to tend the plant in
normal operation. Probably the near future will see the addition
of another 35,000 lew generator which can be operated almost as
easily as the present one.
The Electrical World — December 50, 1933.
The T7ashlnston Star — 1933
The Washington Public Library — 'ffashingtonlana Div.
Potomac Electric Power Company Engineers:
Mr, W. J. Lank — Assistant chief engineer
Mr. R. B, Kellogg — Plant engineer. Buzzard Point
Mr. C. E. Miller — Test engineer, " **.
Mr. H. B. Pollack— Switch-board
operator, '* "
Ifr. J. W. Thomas — Watch engineer, " "
Mr. C. B, Tyson Jr. -- Plant clerk.
Potomac Electric Power Co.
Electrical Engineer's Office
G-eneral view of the plant from the south-west.
A view of the front of the "building in which the
office and lobby are located. The plant fronts on
the Ana cost la River.
-JWja™'*-^«*.-^v-jrj mwjrjfjri^j'.fr rtr4nKtV^^j*'^*»-j*jtjt'>A*» VIKKAC
The two 13,800/2300 volt Btation service transformers.
Plan and croBS-seetlon of Buz,2,ard Point Station.