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Major Gas-Fired Power Plant Proposed for Asylum Township

 

By David Keeler

According to its website, a company named Moxie Energy is proposing to build a large natural gas-fired power plant on a 30-acre site in Bradford County’s Asylum Township.

Moxie Energy says it plans to build the plant to take advantage of the abundant natural gas resources in the area and the skilled workforce that has developed around the domestic natural gas production. The power plant will be fueled only by natural gas (no diesel oil back-up) and will not require river water or any other large source of water typically used for cooling needs.

The plant will consist of two combustion turbine generators that will each produce between 225 and 350 megawatts of electricity. The combustion turbines will be connected to two heat recovery steam generators where the hot exhaust gases from the combustion turbines will produce steam that will be directed to two steam turbines. The steam turbines will produce an additional 250 MW to 300 MW of electricity. 

Moxie Energy says the project will take approximately 30 months and employ an average of 200 skilled and non-skilled workers and a peak workforce of about 500. The direct construction payroll is expected to be about $40 million; the indirect and induced payroll (an estimate of the money spent on outside goods and services such as hotels and apartments, food, clothing, gasoline and other things) is expected to be about $80 million.

Once completed in early 2015, the $800+ million investment will provide a significant and steady tax base to the area and 25 to 30 high-paying technical and operations jobs.

According to Moxie Energy, impact to nearby residents and the environment are intended to be minimized to the greatest extent practical. Both noise and visual impacts to residents of Asylum Township will be minimized by location in the planned commercial/industrial corridor along Route 187, facility design standards and set-back distances from the facility property line. With this location, building enclosures, and other noise-dampening measures, sound levels at the nearest residences property line will not be increased noticeably from existing levels.

The presence of a modern, low-emission power plant, Moxie Energy says, will help shift the source of power away from older plants with greater air emissions. By using only natural gas for fuel and the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for air emissions control, the Moxie Liberty Generation Plant will produce nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions that are about 80 percent less than a comparable new coal plant, carbon dioxide emissions that are about 45 percent less than a comparable coal plant, and sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions that are more than 99 percent less than a comparable coal plant. In total, Moxie Liberty will meet or beat all applicable health-based Pennsylvania and national air compliance standards. This shift away from inefficient, dirty power is both a local benefit and a regional benefit in terms of air quality.

The company’s website states that Moxie Liberty intends to use a cooling system that does not depend on drawing large amounts of water from the Susquehanna River or groundwater resources. In fact, no river water will be used at all. Instead, the project will use air-cooled condensers. These devices function much like a car radiator where cooling is done by fans moving air over finned tubes. Use of air-cooled condensers eliminates any river impacts, including potential impacts to species of special concern. It also eliminates any potential for vapor plumes that can be visible under certain atmospheric conditions.

All materials used at the Moxie Liberty Generation Plant will be stored and used in accordance with applicable U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Pennsylvania regulations. Aqueous ammonia (a 19 percent mixture of water and ammonia that is not considered hazardous), used in the SCR nitrogen oxides emission control system, will be stored in a tank using special systems to eliminate the chance of accidental spills or releases or contain it fully so that it does not impact the public. All wastes will be managed on-site in accordance with state and federal regulations and will be shipped off-site for recycling or disposal. 

The electric power produced at the proposed facility—between 800 and 900 megawatts—will be enough to supply approximately 750,000 homes with clean power generated using domestic fuel. 

Right now, Moxie Liberty expects that the power produced at the facility will be sold into the PJM Interconnection open market, which is an electric transmission grid covering several states (including Pennsylvania) and serving millions of people. First use of the energy will be local, then regional, then system-wide. The new power plant will go far to support the need for affordable, reliable electricity in both Bradford County and Pennsylvania, the company says.

In order to deliver the power into the electric grid, Moxie Liberty will connect into the 230 kV high voltage transmission system that runs across the project site and ties into the East Towanda Substation. Some upgrades to the existing transmission system will likely be required to accept the power that will be produced by the facility. Moxie Liberty is currently working with the transmission owner to determine the exact extent of those upgrades.

The proposed power plant is expected to be built on Asylum Township property currently owned by Larry Fulmer. The project is being reviewed by the Asylum Township Planning Commission.

Moxie Energy is also proposing to build a similar facility in Lycoming County’s Clinton Township.

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