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Philadelphia Transit Agency Looking To Marcellus For Power

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is moving ahead with plans to construct a $26.8 million natural gas power plant to provide energy for its largest bus garage, a trolley substation and other nearby facilities.

SEPTA, which operates buses, subways and commuter rail lines that serve more than three million people in and around Philadelphia, said the facility would come at no cost under an energy-savings performance contract that allows a private sector financial firm to fund the project. The cost would then be paid back from energy savings over the life of the contract under Pennsylvania's Guaranteed Energy Savings Act.

SEPTA has selected Massachusetts-based energy services company Noresco LLC to design the facility. It would use twin natural gas generators to power the Wayne Junction Substation and Midvale Bus Garage, which houses more than 300 buses. The facility would be constructed in North Philadelphia and source natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, SEPTA said.

Excess heat from the plant would also cover the heating load at three other nearby SEPTA facilities. Noresco is conducting an audit to determine if the plant can be funded under the state's guaranteed savings act. If so, SEPTA said the facility could be operational by 2017. 

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