The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved plans by a subsidiary of LS Power to build a 900 MW natural gas-fired power plant about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

According to the May 11 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the Commonwealth’s official weekly gazette for information and rulemaking, the DEP on April 23 approved plans by Hickory Run Energy LLC (HRE) to build the Hickory Run Energy Station in North Beaver Township in Lawrence County.

The proposed power plant is to have two combustion turbine generators and two heat recovery steam generators, the latter of which would be used to drive a single steam turbine generator. Other air emission sources are to include a gas-fired auxiliary boiler; a diesel engine-driven emergency generator; a diesel engine-driven firewater pump; a multi-cell evaporative cooling tower, and various emission control system, tanks and equipment.

Pennsylvania Bulletin also said state regulators have issued HRE a national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit to discharge noncontact cooling water, reverse osmosis reject water and miscellaneous wastewater into the Mahoning River and an unnamed tributary. The DEP said the discharge was not expected to affect public water supplies.

DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday told NGI 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.

Hickory Run is one of nine gas-fired power plants under consideration in Pennsylvania.

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.

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

A report by the New Castle News said the Hickory Run plant would connect to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline for its natural gas. None of the eight companies proposing power plants could either be reached or would respond to requests for comment.

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 (kWh) 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 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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