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Plocher Construction Company Relies Upon Delmag For Major Southern Illinois Energy Project

plocher hammer steel southern illinois energy delmag rigsThe ceremonial groundbreaking on the Prairie State Energy Campus took place on October 1st, 2007, but Plocher Construction Co. of Highland, Ill., was busy at the 1,200-acre site in Lively Grove, Ill., long before that.

Plocher, which will supply and install 7,643 H piles, was involved in a $1 million test pile program, performed to verify the location of load-bearing rock and to test maximum load bearing capacities. Extensive testing was done to verify the piles reached capacity and were not over-stressed during driving. "Basically, we were able to prove the H pile was the best alternative because of the increased tonnages we were able to get," said Scott Plocher, company president.

Soil on the site is "typically Illinois silty clay for the first 50 feet, and then either a little shale or 10 feet of shale," which the contractor must drive through to reach sandstone underneath, Plocher said.

plocher construction hammer steel delmag piling rigsThe company is driving a mix of HP12x74 and HP10x42 piles, using two Delmag D46-32 rigs for the 12-inch piles and a Delmag D30-32 system for the 10-inch piles. The company used the same equipment packages at a similar job and has been very satisfied with the results.

"Production with the Delmags is going even better than expected,"
Plocher said.

The project does present some challenges, he noted, including cold weather, the varying thickness of shale, and the sheer size of the project which requires three separate rigs driving simultaneously.

Plocher has been a Hammer & Steel customer since he formed the company in 1994. The reasons are simple: "Hammer & Steel's service is foremost, and their stuff works. There are cheaper hammers we could have gotten, but they just didn't suit us," he said. "We have a good, long-term relationship with Hammer & Steel."

Located about 40 miles southeast of St. Louis, the Prairie State Energy Campus will include a 1,500-megawatt, coal-burning electricity power plant and an adjacent coal mine. Bechtel Power Corp. is the contractor on the $2 billion power plant owned by Peabody Energy. It is the largest private capital project constructed in southern Illinois.

Plocher expects to complete the pile work by July 2008.

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