TOWANDA - A natural gas-fired electrical power plant will be constructed soon in Asylum Township near here, tapping into the plentiful supply of natural gas being harvested from the Marcellus Shale.
According to Kent Morton, vice president of Moxie Liberty LLC, of Vienna, Va., construction should be under way by the spring of 2013 and the plant operational by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.
The $800 million plant will be constructed just off Route 187 near Wysox next to the Susquehanna River, Morton said.
Situated on 20-25 acres of farmland, the plant's footprint compared to other plants will be "relatively small," Morton said.
It is expected to produce about 800 megawatts of electric power, enough to power about 750,000 residences, he added.
Between 500 and 600 people will be needed to build the plant, providing good-paying jobs throughout its construction, Morton said.
"There will be about 250 people on the site through the construction period," he said. "There will be a whole lot more than that working on the specialty construction parts of it. A lot of people will be put to work."
Gemma Power Systems, headquartered in Connecticut, will handle engineering procurement and construction or general contracting and will hire all the subcontractors, Morton said.
No water will be needed for cooling the plant, which will be air cooled, Morton said.
"This is one of the big environmental benefits to only using natural gas," he said. "There is a cooling need in the plant as there is in most plants, he added, and those have either gone with one pass cooling that takes tens of millions of gallons every day, or some use evaporative condensers."
In addition, no other fuel will be burned, just natural gas.
"We are not burning fuel oil, either. We are using an air-cooled condenser that acts as a radiator with air blowing across coils," he said.
Morton said when the company first came to the region, "talked to a lot of people and learned about the environmental issues and a big one was water."
"The air-cooled technology has been around for along time but was mostly used in areas where there is no water, like New Mexico," Morton said.
"In areas where there is water, it has always been easier just to use the water. Now, Pennsylvania is trying to protect its water resources, while supplying a good source of clean energy," he added.
Once the project is complete there will be about 30 employees doing shift work.
Waste heat from two turbine generators will be converted to steam in two heat recovery generators and piped to the turbines. A large air-cooled condenser will convert the steam to condensed water that will be sent back to the heat recovery steam generators.
The waste created will be "a little bit of processed waste, which is a relatively small amount of water that either drips from pipes in the plant, or needs to be cleaned up a bit because it is being cycled so often," he said.
The process to eliminate it is "very clean because the water we use in the plant has to be very clean."
Rather than dumping treated waste into the river, Morton said the plan is to truck it to an off-site facility using no more than one truck per day carrying 4,000-5,000 gallons.
State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer called Wednesday "a red-letter day for Pennsylvania."
DEP staff's technical review determined that the proposed levels of air emissions satisfy federal and state best available control technology and the lowest achievable emission rate requirements in issuing the air quality plan approval.
"Moxie now has all that it needs from DEP to move forward with the construction of this historic facility, which will use clean, pipeline-quality, locally produced natural gas as fuel."
DEP also issued an industrial stormwater permit for the plant and gave approval for the use of water as drinking water.
Moxie Patriot LLC, a sister company to Moxie Liberty LLC, has applied for an air quality plan approval for a similar facility to be built in Clinton Township, Lycoming County. DEP is reviewing the application.