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NorthStar Group Razes Benning Road Power Plant in D.C.

NorthStar, the general contractor selected by PES for the project, has found increased productivity on site with the help of Company Wrench.

Mon December 15, 2014 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The once coal, then oil fired Benning Road Power Plant, owned and operated by Pepco Energy Services (PES) since 2000, is in the process of being demolished. NorthStar, the general contractor selected by PES for the project, has found increased productivity on site with the help of Company Wrench, which provided NorthStar with exclusive services to successfully complete the project.

NorthStar is a demolition-environmental firm which was recently formed by the merging of LVI Services Inc. of New York City, and NCM Group Holdings Inc. of Brea, C.A. Founded in 1986, LVI is known as an industry leader of environmental remediation, deconstruction and decommissioning and emergency response services; and over the years, NCM has become a reputable demolition, dismantling, asset and scrap recovery, remediation and disaster response contractor. Together as NorthStar, the companies tackle challenging commercial, government and industrial projects with a blend of expertise and an extensive set of services.

Constructed in 1906, the Benning Road Power Plant occupies approximately 25 percent of the PES facility’s 77 acres. As a supplier of most of the power in the D.C. area, PES eliminated the need of the electricity generated by the Benning Power Plant by adapting to newer developments and upgrading its transmission grid. PES ceased operation of the plant in 2012, and placed it into an idle, cold-closure state, where major equipment such as generators, boilers and cooling towers were no longer operable. It was decided that it would be best for PES, neighboring communities and the District of Columbia, if the plant were dismantled and removed from the premises. NorthStar has had excellent experience with Company Wrench in the past, and as the general contractor, immediately asked Company Wrench to aid in the planning and demolition of the Benning Road Power Plant project.

Company Wrench, an Ohio based company that operates in 10 locations across seven states, specializes in the manufacturing, sales, rentals, parts and service of scrap, demolition and construction equipment. All equipment on site at the Benning Road Power Plant, with the exception of one machine, was provided to NorthStar through a rental-purchase agreement by Company Wrench’s Williamstown, N.J., facility. Company Wrench provided NorthStar with Kobelco excavators because of their enhanced performance and efficiency capabilities, as well as excellent comfort features.

“The power plant demo is a rough job,” said Michael Gilmartin, northeast regional manager of Company Wrench. “The Kobelco excavators are great because they keep the operators in a comfortable position for extended periods of time.”

In addition to Kobelco excavators — including the SK850, SK500 and SK350 — Company Wrench also provided nine attachments to NorthStar through which the company has found significantly increased productivity. The attachments consist of LaBounty MSD 3000R and MSD 4000R shears, multiple hammers including a massive, second member 16,000 lb. hammer, two dust destroyers and multiple pulverizers.

“The attachments we’re using not only help us get the job done, but they help us get the job done faster,” said Nick Bucci, assistant project manager of NorthStar.

NorthStar not only asked Company Wrench to provide a recommendation of equipment, but also asked for a proposal regarding the most efficient way to dismantle the power plant.

“An added bonus to the demolition is that all materials are being recycled on site,” said Gilmartin.

The comprehensive demolition plan NorthStar is using involves four distinct phases.

Completed in December of 2013, the first phase involved dismantling the power plant cooling towers, which were made primarily of wood, fiberglass, plastic and steel. These towers were pulled down through the careful use of hammers, shears and other heavy equipment.

The phase currently under way is the second phase. During this period, demolition focuses on the conventional dismantling and removal of the main power plant structures. First, NorthStar had to remove asbestos and other potentially hazardous materials from all buildings of the power plant. Having completed this, demolition of the metal stacks as well as other buildings is now under way.

Tentatively scheduled to begin in December, the third phase entails taking down approximately 30 percent of the power plant by implosion. A highly specialized contractor has been hired to manage this phase. The implosion will be a one-time event with public notifications and safety measures in place.

Restoration is the final phase of the controlled plan, which involves grading and leveling the ground surface of where the plant once stood. This phase is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2015.

A majority of the conventional demolition on site, from tearing down structures that are more than 50 ft. (15 m) high to moving 300 ton (272 t) turbines, is being done using Kobelco’s 181,440 lb. (83,000 kg) SK850 mass excavator.

The utilization of the SK850 combined with Company Wrench’s exclusive dual pin boom gives the excavator an additional 8 ft. (2.4 m) of height, bringing the machine’s extended height to 35 ft. 1 in. (10.7 m), giving it a maximum reach of 44 ft. (13.4 m). The dual pin boom allows operators to reach heights that are not accessible with smaller machines.

“We’ve received excellent feedback from NorthStar about Kobelco excavators,” said Gilmartin. “The operators like the flexibility Kobelco excavators provide in addition to how smooth they run compared to other brands.”

Increased productivity also is being realized through the use of exclusive Company Wrench attachments.

“The second member hammer is a beast,” said Bucci. “It’s helping us get through the challenging project of pulverizing pedestals that are over 100 years old and made of concrete 2 feet deep with metal underneath. The entire process with Company Wrench has been very instrumental. Their sales and service team got the Kobelco machines on site quickly. We started a month behind schedule but quickly caught up to where we needed to be because of the top-notch, efficient equipment Company Wrench recommended and is providing to us.”

Although Company Wrench has represented many brands over the years, Kobelco remains one of its strongest.

“We have had excellent experiences with Kobelco,” said Gilmartin. “Its excavators are not only reliable, but the company has outstanding customer service. There isn’t another brand that I wouldn’t put a Kobelco neck and neck with. I walk onto every job site and suggest Kobelco.”

Company Wrench offers high reach and long reach excavators, material handling equipment, skid steers, mini-excavators, wheel loaders, crushers and screeners, as well as a full line of self-contained dust suppression equipment. Company Wrench offers Kobelco excavators for sale or rent, as well as full service maintenance and parts.

For more information on Company Wrench, call 1-866/262-4181 or visit

For more information on Kobelco, call 281/888-8430 or visit

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