Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Ninth New NatGas Power Plant Approved for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently approved plans by a subsidiary of LS Power to build a 900 MW natural gas-fired power plant about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, bringing to nine the number of gas-fired plants proposed in and around the state's Marcellus Shale resource.

The latest, the Hickory Run Energy Station in North Beaver Township in Lawrence County, has been proposed by Hickory Run Energy LLC (HRE).

According to DEP records, Vienna, VA-based Moxie Energy LLC subsidiaries Moxie Liberty LLC and Moxie Patriot LLC have submitted applications for a 936 MW-capacity plant in Bradford County's Asylum Township, and a similar plant in Lycoming County's Clinton Township. Two subsidiaries of Omaha, NE-based Tenaska Inc. want to a 930 MW plant in Westmoreland County's South Huntingdon Township, as well as a 950 MW facility in Lebanon County's North Lebanon Township.

Elsewhere, Berks Hollow Energy Associates LLC proposes building a 685 MW facility in Ontelaunee Township, in Berks County; Bakers Farm Energy LLC has proposed a 650 MW power plant in York County; Sunbury Generation LP is planning a 1,064-MW facility in Snyder County; and Future Power Pennsylvania Inc., a subsidiary of EmberClear Corp., plans to build its Good Spring 300 MW plant in Schuylkill County.

DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday told NGI's Shale Daily that HRE has 18 months to begin construction. The power plant is expected to cost an estimated $750 million and be fueled with natural gas from an unspecified pipeline. A report by the New Castle News said the Hickory Run plant would connect to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline for its natural gas.

If all are constructed, the nine gas-fired plants would collectively generate 7,351 MW of electricity.

The amount of natural gas used to generate electricity depends on the heat rate of the power plant and the heat content of the fuel, both of which vary widely. Assuming a power plant heat rate of 8,152 Btu per kilowatt-hour and a fuel heat content of about 1.02 million Btu per Mcf, it would require 7.98 Mcf to generate 1 MW of electricity.

That means it would require about 1.41 Bcf/d to run all nine power plants at 100% capacity. But assuming the power plants would run at an average of 60% capacity -- to accommodate for lower usage during evening hours, maintenance downtime, etc. -- the rate would fall to 845 MMcf/d.

Gregory Reed, director of the Center for Energy's Electric Power Initiative at the University of Pittsburgh, told NGI's Shale Daily that he believed there was an ample amount of gas for all nine power plant projects to ultimately move forward.

"I haven't had a chance to do any calculations to match the Btu potential of the gas to the amount of MW capacity they're proposing for these plants, but when you look at the actual overall capacity in terms of what can be tapped, I don't think that's a limiting factor," Reed said Wednesday.

"I think the more limiting factor is going to be more grade infrastructure, to be able to integrate this many megawatts into the network and the infrastructure that exists in the region."

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