A Dallas-based private equity firm, which has the ability to develop, acquire, construct, finance and operate large-scale, natural gas-fueled power generation facilities, Panda Power Funds began construction on the company’s 829-megawatt combined-cycle “Liberty” generating station located in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
The generating station will be located in Asylum Township in Bradford County, approximately 140 miles northwest of Philadelphia. When completed, the generating station will be able to supply the power needs of up to 1 million homes in Pennsylvania.
“The Liberty project is the first power plant deliberately sited in the heart of the Marcellus Shale to take advantage of low natural gas prices and transportation costs,” the company said. Panda expects commercial operations to begin by early 2016.
“The Panda Liberty project has been strategically sited in the PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest competitive wholesale electricity market, which serves 60 million people in all or parts of 13 states,” Panda officials said. “The Interconnection is in need of new generating capacity as approximately 20,000 megawatts of coal-fired power generation is expected to retire by 2016. PJM also has an aging generating fleet, in need of replacement, with 70,000 megawatts of generation possessing an average age of 56 years."
“We are investing hundreds of millions of dollars here precisely because Governor Corbett and other Commonwealth officials have been far sighted in developing Pennsylvania’s abundant natural resources,” added Todd W. Carter, President/Senior Partner of Panda Power Funds. “Because of their vision, Pennsylvania is leading the nation toward economic prosperity and energy independence.”
According to the firm approximately 500 jobs will be created to construct the Liberty power plant at peak construction. During operations, the generating station will create an estimated 27 skilled jobs to operate the facility and 45 indirect jobs within the community to support the plant.
The Liberty facility will be one of the cleanest natural gas-fueled power plants in the nation, utilizing state-of-the-art emissions-control technology, the company said. The plant will be powered by Siemens H-class gas turbines, the world’s first generation technology to achieve operating efficiencies of 60 percent, making the facility one of the most fuel-efficient natural gas power plants in the United States.
In addition, unlike approximately 95 percent of the nation’s generating facilities, the plant will be cooled with air rather than water. As a result, the Liberty plant will not draw water from, or discharge water into, the Susquehanna River, eliminating potential impacts to species in the Susquehanna watershed, officials from the firm explained.
“By growing Pennsylvania’s world-class energy industry in a safe and responsible way, we are building a stronger Pennsylvania,” said Governor Tom Corbett. “As our economy continues to grow, companies like Panda Power Funds are investing in our commonwealth and are creating hundreds of family-sustaining jobs.”
At the groundbreaking, Governor Corbett announced that, according to a third-party economic analysis, the Panda Liberty power plant will contribute an estimated $5.97 billion to the area’s economy during construction and the facility’s first 10 years of operation.
Gemma Power Systems LLC, through a joint venture with The Lane Construction Corporation, is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, and Siemens Energy Inc. will provide the power island package including the natural gas turbines, steam turbines, generators and waste heat recovery boilers. Gemma-Lane will be responsible for installing the power island equipment and for the engineering, procurement and installation of the balance of the plant, and the commissioning of the facility.