Coming shortly after completion of its Liberty H-class combined cycle plant, Panda Power Funds reports successful commissioning of its 829 MWe Patriot H-class combined cycle facility (pictured above), in Lycoming County. Panda notes that the Patriot project is only the second power plant in the USA, after the Liberty plant, 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.

The commissioning of the new plant is “an important part of a national trend away from coal-fired to natural gas-fuelled generation”, says Panda, which points out that the discovery of massive deposits 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, the implementation of strict air emissions standards has driven up the cost of environmental compliance 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.”

As well as achieving low emissions, Patriot is air cooled, so 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.

Like Liberty, the Patriot plant uses Siemens H-class turbines in a single shaft configuration.

Gemma-Lane Patriot Partners served as the project EPC contractor for Patriot and Siemens Energy Inc provided the power island package including the natural gas turbines, steam turbine and heat recovery steam generators. Gemma- Lane Patriot Partners was responsible for installing the power island equipment and for the engineering, procurement and installation of the balance of plant, and the commissioning of the facility. Construction began in December of 2013 and took approximately 30 months.

The 829 MWe Liberty plant, a “sister” facility, in Bradford County, entered commercial service approximately two months prior to the Patriot plant.

Panda is also building the 1124 MW Hummel Station plant, in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, which is one of the largest coal to natural gas power replacement projects in the USA.