UGI Energy Services LLC has broken ground on the Sunbury Pipeline, which would supply one of the nation’s largest coal-to-natural gas power conversion projects in central Pennsylvania Snyder County.

The company hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday near the site of the proposed plant that attracted nearly 100 guests, UGI said. The company announced the 35-mile, 200,000 Dth/d pipeline in December 2014 (see Daily GPI, Dec. 22, 2014). It would provide Marcellus Shale gas to Panda Power Funds LP’s 1,124 MW Hummel Station. Bechtel Corp. started construction on the plant last summer.

“Pennsylvania continues to set new records in natural gas production, breaking 4.6 Tcf last year,” said Chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Gladys Brown, who spoke at the event. “Projects like the Sunbury Pipeline will not only help bring more local energy to local users, but also help meet our clean power goals by fueling efficient natural gas-fired electric generation.”

The pipeline would begin in Lycoming County, PA, and end at the site in Snyder County. UGI has said it expects to invest $150 million to build the system and anticipates completing it by the end of the year. It would take gas from Williams’ Transcontinental Gas Pipeline.

Panda secured $835 million in financing for the power plant last year and plans to have it complete by 2018 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 29, 2015). The plant is located on the western bank of the Susquehanna River at the site of a former coal-fired power plant that was retired in 2014. The natural gas-fired facility is expected to provide 180% more power than the former 400 MW coal-fired plant.

Panda has two other 829 MW natural gas-fired power plants in the state in Bradford and Lycoming counties. Those were completed and turned over to Panda this year for commercial operations (see Daily GPI, June 24).

UGI’s ceremony came on the same day as Omaha-based Tenaska hosted a similar groundbreaking ceremony on the other side of the state in Westmoreland County, where state, local and executive officials celebrated progress on the company’s 925 MW natural gas-fired plant (see Daily GPI, Aug. 24). Construction on the Westmoreland Generating Station started earlier this year and Tenaska also expects that the plant will be completed by 2018. The facilities are some of the dozens of natural gas power plants that have broken ground, been approved or proposed in the state (see Daily GPI,May 13).