Panda sees good outlook for 859-MW natural gas plant in Maryland

Dallas-based Panda Power Funds said Aug. 19 that it plans to develop an 859-MW combined-cycle power plant in an industrial zone in Brandywine, Md.

GenerationHub had reported earlier this summer that Panda was already seeking regulatory permits for its Panda Mattawoman facility. The project site is located about 12 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., in Prince George’s County, Md.

In July, Panda Power Fund’s Mattawoman Energy applied to the Maryland Public Service Commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN), with that application still pending.

A Panda Power Funds spokesperson said Aug. 19 that a public meeting on the baseload gas plant project is expected in September. The certificate application is being reviewed by the county and Panda considers the project in advanced development.

The plant will create an estimated 700-to-800 union construction jobs, 25 direct jobs to run the facility and 32 indirect jobs to support it, Panda managers said in a statement.

The facility is expected to contribute approximately $1.2bn to the area’s economy during construction and the plant’s first 10 years of operation, Panda said. Panda did not, however, publicly disclose the estimated construction cost of the project.

Once complete, the natural gas-fueled station will be able to supply the power needs of approximately 859,000 homes in the Greater Maryland / Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

If approved by regulators, the plant would be built in an existing I-2 heavy industrial zone. To reduce sightlines, the facility has been designed with one of the “lowest profiles” of any power plant in the United States, Panda said. No part of the plant will be more than 100 feet high, the Panda spokesperson said. By comparison, the plant will be 26 feet lower than a nearby weather radar tower. The plant will have a setback of approximately 565 yards from the nearest road, will be heavily buffered by trees and further shielded from view with berms and landscaping.

The Mattawoman plant will also be a “zero-liquid-discharge” plant, returning no waste water to a treatment facility and subsequently preventing the discharge of harmful nutrients into the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, potable water will not be used in the operation of the plant. The station will instead use recycled municipal waste water for cooling purposes in order to help conserve the state’s natural supply of drinking water.

The Panda Mattawoman plant will be located between Air Force road and a CSX rail line off Brandywine Road. Construction of the Mattawoman project will take approximately 30 months and is dependent upon financing, regulatory approvals and other conditions.

Panda has told the Maryland PSC that it wants to secure approval by March 2014, which would give it enough time to get the plant built and for it to provide power into PJM Interconnection’s 2017-2018 auction.

Panda optimistic about financing

Panda officials are optimistic about attracting financing for the project after the firm is able to secure an air permit, the Panda spokesperson said.  

The Panda Power Funds project is one of several gas-fired power plants to be announced in anticipation of expected major coal plant retirements in the PJM market.

“Maryland needs added capacity,” the Panda spokespersons said. Maryland already imports much of its electricity and some estimates suggest 20,000 MW of coal-fired generation will soon be retired in PJM, the spokesperson said.

In Maryland, the Genesis Power 735-MW Keys Energy Center, located near the Mattawoman site, is also hoping to take advantage of market trends. The Energy Investors Fund group is involved with the Keys power plant project.

Also in April 2012, the Maryland PSC selected the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) 725-MW St. Charles Energy Center as the winner of a request for proposals (RFP).

A public power entity, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), has proposed building the Wildcat Point gas plant in Cecil County, Md. Unlike the merchant generators, ODEC is planning its gas plant primarily to serve its member cooperatives.

Founded in 2010, Panda Power Funds is a private equity firm headquartered in Dallas, which has the ability to internally source and develop, acquire, invest in, and operate large-scale, natural gas-fueled power generation facilities. The firm has a combined-cycle power plant being built in two phases in Temple, Texas, totaling 1,516 MW and a 758 MW combined-cycle power plant under construction in Sherman, Texas. The company recently built a utility-scale, 20-MW solar project in New Jersey.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.