Panda Power Funds broke ground on for its 829 MW combined-cycle Patriot generating station in Lycoming County, PA, which will burn gas from the Marcellus Shale.

"The plant's proximity to Marcellus natural gas is expected to provide the project with significant operating cost advantages," the company said. "Panda expects the Patriot generating station to enter commercial operations in mid-2016."

Patriot is the second Panda plant in the "heart of the Marcellus Shale." The first was the company's Liberty power project (see Daily GPIMay 16).

"This is another project that shows how our 'all of the above and below' energy strategy is putting Pennsylvania at the forefront of the American energy revolution," said Gov. Tom Corbett. "By responsibly harvesting our abundant energy resources, we are creating family-sustaining jobs and are reinvigorating local communities all over Pennsylvania."

Panda President Todd Carter praised Pennsylvania's approach to energy and economic development. State officials "...saw then, what is happening now: the rebirth of Pennsylvania’s industrial base and a renewed hope for America’s energy independence," he said.

The new plant will be one of the cleanest natural gas-fueled power plants in the nation, utilizing state-of-the-art emissions-control technology, the company said. It will be powered by Siemens H-class gas turbines, said to be the world's first generation technology to achieve plant operating efficiencies of 60%. The plant will be cooled with air rather than water, meaning there will be no discharges into the Western Branch of the Susquehanna River.

Output from the plant will serve the eastern portion of the PJM Interconnection, which is in need of new capacity as about 20,000 MW of coal-fired generation is scheduled to retire by 2016. "PJM also has an aging generating fleet, in need of replacement, with 70,000 megawatts of generation possessing an average age of 56 years," Panda said.

The plant will be located on an 85-acre site in Montgomery, PA, about 60 miles north of Harrisburg.