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Developer's Proposal For 550 MW NatGas Power Plant Rejected by PA Township

A Chicago-based power generation firm's proposal to build a 550 MW natural gas-fired power plant about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh in Elizabeth Township has hit a roadblock after the zoning board there voted earlier this week against a variance that would allow the plant to be built.

Invenergy LLC, which has developed more than 13,719 MW of wind, solar and natural gas power projects in the United States, Canada and Europe, has faced resistance in the township since it first proposed the facility late last year. The company has already been granted an air quality permit from state regulators for another 1,500 MW gas-fired plant it's working on in Northeast Pennsylvania (see Daily GPIDec. 28, 2015).

The company has hosted three public hearings about its proposal, beginning with one in January that was reportedly contentious (see Daily GPIFeb. 11). The others attracted opposition as well, and after the first hearing, Protect Elizabeth Township was formed by concerned residents who want the plant stopped.

Invenergy wants to construct the facility on a 600-acre stretch of land that once accepted coal sludge and demolition waste from the steel industry and other businesses. Its facility would take up about 20 acres of the site, which has sat dormant for years. The company has argued that the site is not fit for residential development as it is currently zoned.

But given the site's history and concerns about the facility's operations, emissions and possible noise, some residents have rallied against it. The board voted 4-1 on Tuesday to reject the zoning variance.

An Invenergy attorney said zoning officials "ignored the law" and succumbed to "public pressure," adding that the company was "entitled to a yes vote" and saying the company would appeal the decision in court.

Invenergy has estimated that the plant would cost about $350 million to construct. It would take about two years to build and create 200-300 temporary jobs. It is one of dozens of similar facilities that have been proposed or approved throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia that would utilize nearby natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales (see Daily GPIMay 13).

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