MONTGOMERY - Construction of a natural gas-fueled power plant in Clinton Township is progressing on schedule, despite an ownership change.
Panda Power Funds recently completed acquisition and financing of Moxie Energy's Patriot generating station planned on the 85-acre site.
"We closed financing on Dec. 19 on the Patriot plant," said John Zamlen, senior vice president of assets management for Panda Power Funds. "We will be operating the plant under the wholly owned affiliate of Panda Power."
Zamlen said the plant will likely begin operations in mid-2016.
Officials say the facility will be one of the cleanest and most efficient natural gas-fueled power plants in the nation.
Constructed to take advantage of its proximity to the Marcellus Shale, the plant will be cooled by air rather than water. That will eliminate the need for drawing or discharging water from the nearby Susquehanna River, preventing potential impacts to river habitat, according to officials.
Zamlen said Panda retained the same contractors and equipment as Moxie for the project.
"Nothing has changed," he said. "We stepped in. These guys (Moxie) did it right."
Gemma-Lane serves as project EPC contractor and Siemens Energy Inc. will provide the power island package, including gas turbines, steam turbines and heat recovery system.
Moxie officials referred all questions about the project to Panda, a private equity firm based in Dallas, which has five combined-cycle plants under construction in Pennsylvania and Texas.
"There's no grass growing under our feet," said Todd W. Carter, president and senior partner of Panda Power Funds. "I'm extremely proud of a Panda team that has closed five deals of this size in 17 months. I am also pleased to add another Pennsylvania project to our portfolio. Using natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, the Panda Patriot generating station will provide clean, low-cost power to Pennsylvanians for generations to come."
The plant is expected to create up to 500 construction jobs.
The facility will create an estimated 27 skilled jobs for operations. Another 45 indirect jobs within the community will be needed to support the plant.
A number of people concerned about potentially harmful emissions from the plant expressed their opposition to it during a state Department of Environmental Protection hearing in January 2013.
However, DEP eventually approved the plant's air quality plan.
"Subsequent to that, the project was acquired from Moxie by Panda Power Funds of Dallas, Texas," said DEP spokesman Dan Spadoni. "And we are in the process of finalizing the transfer of that air quality plan approval to Panda Patriot LLC, a subsidiary of Panda Power Funds."
Spadoni said other permits for the plant must still be approved including those involving erosion and sedimentation control related to earth-moving activities and possibly a post-construction industrial storm water plan.
DEP is not scheduled to hold any more public meetings regarding the plant.
"We are simply transferring ownership of the permit," he said.