Gas-fired power plants planned for Central PA

Posted by Cliff White on July 13, 2011 

Drawn in by the promise of an abundant and cheap source of energy, a Virginia-based company has announced plans to build two gas-fired power plants in Central Pennsylvania.

The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported Wednesday that Moxie Energy has proposed building plants in Lycoming County and Bradford County, at a price tag of $800 million each.

I reported on the imminent shift toward natural gas power plants in a story in April, which you can read here. In the article, I note the coming shift away from coal and towards natural gas due in large part to the Marcellus Shale:

A steady, low-cost supply of natural gas from Marcellus Shale, coupled with high coal prices due to increased demand from China, has changed the power generation industry’s outlook on natural gas as a fuel source, said Doug Biden, president of the Electric Power Generation Association, a trade group representing wholesale power suppliers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Ohio.
“Three years ago, people from the electric industry would have depicted the growing reliance on natural gas as a potential reliability problem because we had hurricanes Katrina and Rita fresh in our mind and there was this fear that supply could be cut off at any time, especially in summer, when maximum demand occurs,” said Biden.
“With the discovery of this resource right under our feet, Marcellus Shale, that concern goes away ... there’s an expectation of relative price stability that nobody had before.”

The plants will use air-cooled condensers, meaning they won't require any large source of water for cooling, according to a company press release. Together, they'll produce between 800 and 900 megawatts of electricity -- enough to  supply about 750,000 homes.

The company also brags the plants will burn cleaner than coal, producing "nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions that are about 80 percent less than a comparable new coal plant, carbon dioxide emissions that are about 45 percent less than a comparable coal plant, and sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions that are more than 99 percent less than a comparable coal plant," according to the press release.

Pending state approval, construction of the project, which will employ about 200 temporary and 20 to 30 permanent workers, will begin soon and end by 2015.

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