GAIN Experts Visit PA Natural Gas-Powered Electrical Plant

Last week, experts from the GAIN Coalition participated in a tour of the Competitive Power Ventures (CVP) Fairview Energy Center in Jackson Township, Pennsylvania. The tour was the last stop on a GAIN tour throughout western Pennsylvania, recognizing the state’s thriving energy industry and role as the second-highest natural gas producer in the country.

The CPV Energy Center, which is currently under construction, is expected to generate 1,050 megawatts of electricity, which will provide power for over one million homes and businesses in Pennsylvania. The natural gas fueled electric generation facility uses the most advanced technology to ensure that the energy is produced in a reliable, cost-effective manner, and is environmentally responsible with low emissions generation. The advanced tech comes from a partnership with General Electric, which has deployed technology that is 2-3 times more efficient than previous models.

In addition to regionally sourced natural gas, the facility also utilizes ethane as a secondary fuel source – which will be provided via an offtake from the Mariner East pipeline system. Study after study has proven that pipelines are the safest and most efficient method of transportation of energy resources to end markets. Coming online by 2020, the reliable electricity this facility pairs well with electricity generated from power sources like wind and solar – which are less reliable, but help lower emissions as well. Having a facility backed by natural gas and ethane ensures that Pennsylvania customers won’t lose access to their power when wind or solar cuts out.

The GAIN members’ tour was led by Jeff Ahrens, the project manager for CPV, who has been working on developing power plants for nearly three decades. An article and video in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat highlighted the tour:

“We call it free energy,” Ahrens said. “That’s where the efficiency comes from. The first gas turbines are high efficiency, and that’s about 40%. But with free energy, it runs through the steam turbine. Those two combined end up with a result of more than 60% efficiency.

“A typical coal plant would probably just have an efficiency between 30 and 40%.”

According to Ahrens, the plant puts out 50% less emissions than other forms of energy. Additionally, the plant has created hundreds of jobs, with over 1.8 million hours of union labor logged already. He emphasized that the project is already 85% complete and ahead of schedule, expecting power generation to start in September and for construction to be finished before Christmas.

Overall, GAIN got a firsthand look at the benefits that natural gas has to offer; in the forms of jobs, and efficient, reliable electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. It’s crucial to showcase projects like these, and to illustrate all the good that natural gas development can bring.

“It’s primarily seeing how Pennsylvania has really come back,” he (Ahrens) said, noting much of the state’s resurgence can be tied to expansion of energy industries, including the Marcellus shale natural gas production.

GAIN Spokesman Craig Stevens also pointed to the economic impact of natural gas, as seen at CPV Fairview.

“The 1970s to 1990s were tough on the economy here,” Stevens said. “To see this kind of development here is really a testament to the turnaround this area has seen.”

Read more about the tour here.

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