A new power plant at Yokosuka Naval Base will go online in the early fall, slightly behind the arrival of its biggest customer, the USS George Washington, according to engineers with the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center in California.

The co-generation plant, which recaptures heat from natural-gas engines to create steam, will eventually produce 39 megawatts of power, said Dan Magro, an energy project team leader for ESC, a Navy office that specializes in energy-efficient engineering.

The George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is expected to arrive in August to replace the 47-year-old USS Kitty Hawk as the forward-deployed carrier based at Yokosuka Naval Base.

The George Washington will need about 20 to 30 megawatts of power to operate while in port, according to Magro. One megawatt typically powers about 600 homes.

The co-gen plant will make about 39 megawatts when it’s running full speed at the end of the year, Magro said. Until then, the Navy is bringing in huge portable generators the size of railroad cars to power up the George Washington, he said.

Construction on the $108 million power plant was scheduled to end last month. Magro said delays pushed the project back, but work would finish this summer and the plant would power up in the early fall.

The excess power from the new plant will go toward shore buildings, he said. The entire plant has six generator sets — three reserved for the George Washington, two for the shore, and one that can switch between the two, he said.

The plant is being built under the Energy Savings Performance Contract program, a congressional initiative that allows private contractors to earn government financing in return for installing energy conservation measures in federal buildings.

The Yokosuka plant is estimated to save 600 billion British thermal units (BTUs) in energy, plus cut carbon dioxide emissions by 67,000 tons. A BTU is the heat energy needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Those savings mean the Navy will buy less energy from the Japanese. That estimated annual savings of $16 million will pay for the plant’s construction in the long term, Magro said.

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