TOWANDA, BRADFORD COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — North Central Pennsylvania is now home to a first of its kind power plant. It was built specifically to take advantage of its close proximity to the Marcellus Shale industry.
The view from above shows what took more than two years to build in Towanda. It’s the 829 megawatt Panda Liberty Power Plant. “This plant is special,” said Panda Power Funds President/CEO Todd Carter. It’s the first to be fueled by natural gas direct from the Marcellus Shale region where it’s located.
During a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning, officials from Panda Power Funds and Siemens Energy — who teamed-up to bring the plant to Bradford County — proudly talked about the state-of-the-art facility. Siemens Energy Inc. Senior VP Barry Nicholls said, “There are other combine cycle natural gas-fired plants around the country. This is about the most modern.” Mr. Carter added, “It is the most efficient gas project utilizing Marcellus Shale gas that has ever been done in the U.S.”
The plant is considered one of the cleanest natural gas-fueled power plants in existence. Because it’s cooled with air, the nearby Susquehanna River is not needed as a water source for cooling or a site for water discharge. Gas turbines are used to generate power — then exhaust energy is captured to power a steam turbine. Officials say this boosts the plant’s efficiency from about 40% to 60%. Mr. Nicholls said, “Even though there’s a lot of gas here in central Pennsylvania that we want to use, we want to use it as efficiently as possible.”
The plant which has already been supplying electricity to the grid since June powers up to one million homes. It’s also expected to provide plenty of economic juice by contributing nearly $6 billion to the northern tier in the next ten years. “This plant here is an absolute boom to the economy in this region,” said Panda Power Plants VP of Public Affairs Bill Pentak.
Company officials say the new plant in Bradford county will generate electricity for at least the next 30 years.