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NatGas-Fired Power Plant in Northeast Pennsylvania Advances

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a key air quality plan approval to Archbald Energy Partners LLC for its proposed 485 MW natural gas-fired power plant in Lackawanna County.

Archbald Energy is a partnership backed by Houston-based Ember Partners LP and New Jersey-based DCO Energy LLC. The plant would be constructed in Archbald, PA, near Scranton. Chicago-based Invenergy LLC broke ground last year about four miles to the northeast of the proposed Archbald site on its 1,500 MW gas-fired plant.

Archbald Energy filed for the air quality plan approval in February 2016. The company still needs other permits before construction of the plant can begin. The facility would use a combustion gas turbine and a steam turbine. It would also have a diesel-fired emergency generator and use specialized equipment to control nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds.

Combined-cycle power plants use gas and steam turbines together to produce more energy from the same fuel compared to a traditional simple-cycle plant. Heat from the gas turbine is sent to a steam turbine to generate extra power, utilizing heat that would otherwise exit through an exhaust stack. Improved technologies and low-cost shale gas are fueling a gas-fired building boom in the Appalachian Basin, where more than 20 plants are proposed or under construction in Pennsylvania, along with about 11 in Ohio and three in West Virginia.

There are currently about 50 gas-fired power projects underway in PJM Interconnection that include maintenance, expansions and newbuilds, according to the grid operators queue. NGIrecently hosted a panel of experts to discuss how Appalachian Shale gas is affecting the PJM market during its "Super Power"webinar earlier this month (replay available).

Archbald Energy purchased a 45-acre site last year. The Archbald borough council voted 4-3 to change zoning ordinances for the proposed site, creating a 430-acre industrial zone to accommodate the proposed facility. Invenergy's nearby Lackawanna Energy Center is expected to be one of the most efficient power plants in the country once it enters service. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. signed a 10-year sales agreement to exclusively supply that facility with Marcellus Shale gas.

A public meeting for the Archbald Energy plant was held last year and 21 comments were accepted over the following month. The plan approval and the comment response document are available on the DEP website.

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