UPDATE (11/12/15; 1:45 pm ET): A retired power plant near the Shamokin Dam in Snyder County, Pennsylvania will be the new home of the largest natural gas power conversion project in the United States. The 65-year-old power plant was brought offline in 2014 due to low natural gas prices, but in 2018 Marcellus gas produced right here in Pennsylvania will bring this power plant roaring back to life. Todd W. Carter, president and senior partner of Panda Power Funds had this to say about the project:
“The natural gas revolution has arrived in the heart of coal country, I’m proud Panda is leading the way toward clean natural gas-fueled generation.”
Over the two-and-a-half-year construction period, Panda Funds estimates that 900 jobs will be created. Once completed, the generation plant will create 35 direct long term jobs to run the facility and approximately 52 indirect jobs within the community to support the plant.
The generation plant will be using state to the art technology to supply large power markets including the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan area. Once completed, the power plant will supply 180 percent more power than the plant it replaced while SO2 and NOx emissions are expected to be reduced by more than 90 percent. New technology will also allow the power plant to utilize 97 percent less water for cooling, which will help preserve Pennsylvania’s fresh water resources. These types of power generation projects not only create jobs but also move us in the right direction as we continue to improve air quality across the country.
— Original Post August 20, 2015 —
Thanks to the continued development of the Marcellus Shale, natural gas production has consistently increased over the last decade, fueling new power plant projects that will take advantage of the affordable and abundant energy beneath our feet. According to a recent article in the Scranton Times Tribune:
“Hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania has turned U.S. gas markets upside down. Now, that seismic shift is spreading to the electric power industry and Northeast Pennsylvania is the epicenter of that change.”
Currently there are four natural gas power plants proposed for Northeast Pennsylvania and construction of these facilities will help grow the economy and create hundreds of jobs:
- According to Invenergy, Lackawanna Energy Center will create 600 jobs during construction of the facility and once completed the project will generate more than $50 million in community investment.
- The Panda Patriot will “create approximately 500 construction jobs; 27 direct jobs to operate the plant and 45 indirect jobs to support the plant,” and supply up to one million homes.
- The Panda Liberty is estimated to create the same number of jobs as the Patriot, and in supplying another million homes will generate “approximately $5.9 billion to the area’s economy during construction and the plant’s first ten years of operation.”
- The Moxie Freedom is estimated to create yet another 600 jobs that will produce roughly $120 million in payroll and other worker-related revenue.
Aside from the economic benefits, the proposed projects will also serve to decrease emissions during power generation. Improving air quality through natural gas end use is a trend we’ve been seeing across the Commonwealth, as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently stated:
“Significantly, since 2008, when unconventional drilling across the state began quickly increasing, cumulative air contaminant emissions across the state have continued to decline. In particular, sulfur dioxide emissions from electric generating units (EGU) have been reduced by approximately 73 percent. The emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter have also been reduced by approximately 23 percent and 46 percent, respectively, from this sector.”
And, as EID recently reported, Pennsylvania is not alone in this emission reduction trend. New York has also embraced cleaner burning natural gas as a main fuel source for electricity generation and has benefitted greatly because of it. According to a recent report from the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO):
“From 2000 through 2014, New York power plant emission rates dropped by double digits. SO2 emissions rates declined 94 percent. NOX emission rates declined 78 percent. CO2 emission rates declined 39 percent.”
Natural gas development in Pennsylvania has created hundreds of thousands of jobs across the Commonwealth and has helped the United States significantly decrease emissions associated with electricity generation. As more of these projects are completed, Pennsylvania will continue to be an energy power house thanks to the abundant Marcellus Shale.