The Patriot project is only the second power plant in the nation, after Panda Power Fund’s Liberty power project, specifically sited to access large natural gas reserves discovered in the Marcellus shale. The plant’s proximity to low-cost Marcellus natural gas is expected to provide the project with a significant operating cost advantage.
The commissioning of the state-of-the-art plant is an important part of a national trend away from coal-fired to natural gas-fueled generation. The discovery of massive deposits of natural gas in shale basins — such as the Marcellus — has driven down the price, and price volatility, of natural gas. At the same time, the implementation of strict air emissions standards has driven up the cost of environmental compliance for competing coal-fired generation. As a result, much of the nation’s 350,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation is at risk of early retirement.
Calling Pennsylvania “the forefront of an American energy renaissance,” Todd Carter, senior partner and CEO of Panda Power Funds, encouraged those in attendance to continue to responsibly develop the region’s shale gas deposits. “Tapping Marcellus Shale gas is allowing Panda Power Funds to help provide for the rebirth of Pennsylvania’s industrial base. Equally important, it is allowing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to help provide for America’s energy independence.”
The state-of-the-art Patriot generating facility will utilize the latest, most advanced emissions-control technology, making it one of the cleanest natural gas-fueled power plants in the nation. In addition, unlike approximately 95 percent of the nation’s generating facilities, the plant is cooled with air rather than water. As a result, the Panda Patriot plant does not draw water from, or discharge water into, the Western Branch of the Susquehanna River — eliminating potential impacts to species in the Susquehanna watershed.
The Patriot plant also utilizes Siemens H-class gas turbines — the world’s first generation technology designed to achieve operating efficiencies of 60 percent. Patriot is only the second plant in the United States, after Panda’s Liberty generating facility, to use Siemens’ H-Class gas turbines in a very efficient single shaft configuration.
The generating station is consequently expected to displace generation from coal-fired power plants which are much less efficient and environmentally friendly. Accordingly, the Panda Patriot plant will produce about 60 percent less carbon dioxide than a comparably sized coal-fired facility, or the equivalent of taking approximately 350,000 cars off the road for an entire year. SO2 and NOX emissions will also be reduced by more than 90 percent, and mercury emissions will be virtually eliminated when compared to a plant fueled by coal.
Pennsylvania Job Creation and Economic Benefits
According to an economic impact study conducted by Impact Data Source of Austin, Texas, the Panda Patriot plant will contribute an estimated $5.85 billion to the area’s economy in the now-past construction phase and the facility’s first 10 years of operation. More than 1,000 jobs were created to construct the Patriot power plant with approximately 650 at peak construction. Twenty-seven full-time employees currently operate the facility, and 45 indirect jobs are expected to be created within the community to support the plant during operations.
In addition, in a region largely devoid of pipeline infrastructure, the Panda Patriot generating station is helping to create a long-term market for local royalty owners whose natural gas holdings are otherwise trapped.
Gemma-Lane Patriot Partners served as the project EPC Contractor and Siemens Energy Inc. provided the power island package including the natural gas turbines, steam turbine and waste heat recovery boilers. Gemma-Lane Patriot Partners was 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. Construction began in December of 2013 and took approximately 30 months.
Panda Power Funds has also built a “sister” generating facility, the 829 MW Liberty combined-cycle power plant in Bradford County which entered commercial service approximately two months prior to the Patriot plant. Panda is also building the 1,124 MW Hummel Station plant, in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, which is one of the largest coal to natural gas power replacement projects in the country.