Officials from across Pennsylvania joined Panda Power Funds on Nov. 16 to commission the company’s 829-MW, combined-cycle Patriot station in Lycoming County.
The Patriot project is only the second power plant in the nation, after Panda’s Liberty power project in Pennsylvania, specifically sited to access large natural gas reserves discovered in the Marcellus Shale. The plant’s proximity to low-cost Marcellus natural gas is expected to provide the project with a significant operating cost advantage, Panda said.
The commissioning of the state-of-the-art plant is an important part of a national trend away from coal-fired to natural gas-fueled generation. The discovery of natural gas in shale basins — such as the Marcellus — has driven down the price, and price volatility, of natural gas. At the same time, strict new air emissions standards has driven up the costs for competing coal-fired generation. As a result, much of the nation’s 350,000 MW of coal-fired generation is at risk of early retirement, Panda noted.
Said Todd Carter, senior partner and chief executive officer of Panda Power Funds: “Tapping Marcellus Shale gas is allowing Panda Power Funds to help provide for the rebirth of Pennsylvania’s industrial base. Equally important, it is allowing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to help provide for America’s energy independence.”
The state-of-the-art Patriot facility will utilize the latest, most advanced emissions-control technology, making it one of the cleanest natural gas-fueled power plants in the nation. In addition, unlike approximately 95% of the nation’s generating facilities, the plant is cooled with air rather than water. As a result, the Panda Patriot plant does not draw water from, or discharge water into, the Western Branch of the Susquehanna River — eliminating potential impacts to species in the Susquehanna watershed.
The Patriot plant also utilizes Siemens H-class gas turbines — the world’s first generation technology designed to achieve operating efficiencies of 60%. Patriot is only the second plant in the United States, after Panda’s Liberty facility, to use Siemens’ H-Class gas turbines in a very efficient single shaft configuration.
According to an economic impact study conducted by Impact Data Source of Austin, Texas, the Panda Patriot plant will contribute an estimated $5.85 billion to the area’s economy in the now-past construction phase and the facility’s first 10 years of operation. More than 1,000 jobs were created to construct the Patriot power plant with approximately 650 at peak construction. Twenty-seven full-time employees currently operate the facility, and forty-five indirect jobs are expected to be created within the community to support the plant during operations.
Gemma-Lane Patriot Partners served as the project EPC Contractor and Siemens Energy Inc. provided the power island package, including the gas turbines, steam turbine and waste heat recovery boilers. Construction began in December 2013 and took approximately 30 months.
The 829-MW Liberty combined-cycle plant in Bradford County, Pa., entered commercial service approximately two months prior to the Patriot plant. Panda is also building the 1,124 MW Hummel Station plant in Sunbury, Pa., which is one of the largest coal to natural gas power replacement projects in the country.
Panda Power Funds is a private equity firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas, that develops, owns, operates and manages investments in clean energy. Panda has five combined-cycle plants in operation in Texas and Pennsylvania, and two combined-cycle plants currently under construction in Pennsylvania and Virginia (Panda Stonewall project) with a combined capacity of more than 5,800 MW. Panda also has a 990-MW project in Maryland (the Mattawoman project) in advanced development.
Siemens, Gemma point out their parts in this project
Siemens noted in its own Nov. 16 statement that these two Panda power plants (Patriot and Liberty) are the first in the nation to employ the Siemens SGT6-8000H single shaft configuration. For both Patriot and Liberty, Siemens’ scope of supply features advanced power generation technology, financing, and long-term service. The single shaft power plant blocks include two SGT6-8000H gas turbines, two SST6-5000 steam turbines, two hydrogen-cooled SGen6-2000H generators, and two heat recovery steam generators, along with the control system SPPA-T3000. The gas turbines and generators were manufactured at Siemens’ Charlotte Energy Hub, the global base for the company’s 60 Hz power generating equipment.
For Patriot, Siemens Financial Services provided financing to aid in the project’s construction through a $75 million term loan.
“We are proud to deliver our second of three natural gas-fired power plants for Panda Power Funds in Pennsylvania. This fuel-efficient, state of the art facility will deliver power to about one million homes – substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to aging generating stations,” said Martin Tartibi, Senior Executive Vice President, Energy Solutions Americas, Siemens Power and Gas. “The Siemens gas turbines and generators were manufactured at our US energy hub in North Carolina, the control system was produced in Georgia, and service technicians from Pennsylvania will help ensure that the plant operates at maximum capacity for many years to come.”
The H-class technology in a single-shaft configuration, used in the Patriot and Liberty stations, means that both the gas turbine and steam turbine are arranged on one shaft and drive the same generator. This design offers economic advantages as a result of low investment costs, excellent efficiency and a high degree of flexibility during operation.
The Patriot power project is one of seven for Siemens and Panda Power Funds in the United States, totaling over 5,800 MW. In addition to selecting Siemens to supply three Flex-Plants in Texas, Panda Power Funds chose Siemens to deliver three combined cycle power plants (CCPPs) in Pennsylvania – including Patriot and Liberty – and one CCPP in Virginia.
Siemens Corp. is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. Siemens is a leading supplier of systems for power generation and transmission as well as medical diagnosis.
Gemma Power Systems LLC said in its own Nov. 16 statement that it helped build the Patriot project through a joint EPC venture with The Lane Construction Corp.
“Clean, reliable and affordable energy is vital to a thriving economy. We are proud to play a role in securing the energy independence of this region and our nation,” said William F. Griffin, Jr., Gemma Power Systems Chief Executive Officer.
Gemma Power Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Argan Inc. (NYSE: AGX), is a leading Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) company providing innovative solutions for the power and renewable energy industry. Its wide-ranging and comprehensive experience comprises 14,000 MW under contract and installed capacity including combined cycle and simple cycle gas turbine generating plants, biomass, solar facilities, wind farms, biofuel plants and environmental facilities.