Energy plant powers up in county

Guests walk by one of the towers during the tour of the Panda Power Funds Patriot Energy Center in Montgomery on Wednesday. Tours were given after the commissioning ceremony at the plant in Montgomery.  The Patriot Energy Center is the nation's second Marcellus shale-gas power plant.
KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Guests walk by one of the towers during the tour of the Panda Power Funds Patriot Energy Center in Montgomery on Wednesday. Tours were given after the commissioning ceremony at the plant in Montgomery. The Patriot Energy Center is the nation's second Marcellus shale-gas power plant. KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

MONTGOMERY — Construction began on the massive, Marcellus Shale-gas power plant, Patriot Energy Center, a little over two years ago. To celebrate its completion, Panda Power Funds held an official commissioning ceremony at the Clinton Township location on Wednesday.

The power plant, the second of its kind in the nation, will power up to 1 million homes and is expected to contribute nearly $6 billion to the state economy.

But the speakers who provided crucial assistance on all fronts to the building of the plant stressed that it is a national achievement.

“Today is not only an amazing day for Clinton Township, but for America,” said Martin Tartibi, senior executive vice president of energy solutions in the Americas for Siemens Energy.

According to Tartibi, the plant will provide economic growth in the form of jobs and contribute to energy independence for the country.

“This uses the gas found underneath of us,” he explained. “And, it does it in a clean way. Compared to other power plants in the area, this is like taking 350,000 cars off the street. This contributes to America’s emergence as a global energy leader.”

Expected to create 27 permanent jobs and 45

indirect jobs in the local community as well as 500 construction jobs, the $1 billion power plant “is the largest project in the history of Lycoming County,” Vincent J. Matteo, president and CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, said during his speech.

During the construction of the plant, there was a relentless focus on a safe work environment, Senior Vice President of Gemma Power Chris Kollmer said.

“We have more than 2 million safe working hours on the Patriot power plant,” Kollmer said. “We’ve also grown our relationship with the local unions and a large part of these projects have positive enduring effects on the population.”

With three major power plants now in central Pennsylvania, unemployment rates are down, said state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township.

Both Panda-Liberty, in Bradford County, and the Panda-Patriot Energy Center are in Yaw’s district, he said.

“This is one of the most significant plants in the world and it’s important that it’s here,” he said. “It’s been a privilege to be involved in a project like this.”

The power plant is a continuation of the success of the natural gas business in the area, Matteo said.

“In the last 10 years, downtown Williamsport has become the center of dining and entertainment in the county,” he said, adding that much of that is because of natural gas and American power through American energy.

The plant is cooled with air rather than water, eliminating the need to draw or discharge water into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River — following along with the sentiments of what Bob and Janice Carter believed in when they started Panda Power Funds 35 years ago, said company President Todd W. Carter.

“Because of the clean efforts, these projects are exceptional in every sense of the word,” he said. “Pennsylvania, along with the country, is at the forefront of an energy renaissance.”

Mirroring what Tartibi said, Carter stressed the importance of projects such as the plant helping to sever the energy dominance other countries have over the United States.

“We now have about a 100-year supply of natural gas because of drilling and drilling responsibly,” Carter said. “This is a project I am proud of, and I hope makes others proud for many years to come.”

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