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New Gas-Fired Calpine Plant Cited as Milestone

In a still-depressed market for merchant power, Calpine Corp. on Tuesday used the dedication of a new natural gas-fired power plant in the PJM market as a signal that competitive power markets are working and independent generation plant developers will continue to build more gas-fired plants.

Calpine's 565 MW York Energy Center in York County, PA, has been operating commercially since March, and beginning June 1 the plant's output began going to Constellation Energy under a six-year tolling agreement.

In a letter commemorating the dedication, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said the plant "has turned one of Pennsylvania's own natural resources -- natural gas -- into a reliable, responsible energy source for our citizens." Corbett also cited the economic development advantages of the plant, saying "it is my sincere hope that this display of determination and ingenuity will inspire the rest of the [state] and beyond."

The new power plant was touted for the efficiency of its gas-fired combined-cycle technology, which has been fitted with advanced emissions control equipment, making the plant "among the cleanest in the eastern United States." Calpine said the York plant uses about 40% less fuel/MWh produced compared with older gas-fired facilities and produces less than half of the greenhouse gas emissions of a typical coal-fired power plant.

Noting that the plant was completed three months ahead of schedule, Calpine CEO Jack Fusco touted the plant's value to Pennsylvania consumers and policymakers, along with surrounding states in PJM. "This plant demonstrates that competitive power markets are working as designed, and independent power companies will build plants and produce reliable, flexible and cost-effective power in an environmentally sustainable manner," Fusco said.

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