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DEP hears testimony on gas-fired power plant

BERWICK – About 25 to 30 people — several opposed and some supportive — attended a hearing held by the state Department of Environmental Protection at Berwick Area High School on Tuesday for public comment on an application by Vienna, Virginia-based Moxie Energy, LLC for an air quality plan approval.

The company wants to build an $850 million natural gas-fired power plant in Salem Township, in an industrial zone off U.S. Route 11, the current site of Mingle Inn Antiques. The site was selected because it is close to Talen Energy’s Susquehanna Nuclear LLC power plant, which has an existing high-voltage electricity transmission line system, and the Transco interstate pipeline runs close by to provide an ample supply of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

“It’s a terrific site from an existing infrastructure standpoint,” Moxie Energy President Aaron Samson said, adding that the plant would be the cleanest, most efficient power plant in the state when it goes online.

The plant would generate 1,050 megawatts — “That’s about a million people’s worth of energy,” Samson said — and would be powered by a combustion turbine engine with a steam turbine cycle. He said it is air-cooled, so it would use an average of 25,000 gallons of water a day, as opposed to 6 million gallons if it was water-cooled.

The fact that this water would come from an underground well is one of the things DEP has to look at, in addition to emissions produced by the plant, DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said.

It was these two subjects, water use and air quality, that were residents’ primary concerns.

Freddie Fransen of Salem Township said he couldn’t help but believe the amount of water Moxie would use would affect people’s wells, and noted that Talen Energy’s proposed third nuclear power reactor would take even more water from the nearby Susquehanna River.

Dean Marshall of Benton said DEP should consider the cumulative effect of natural gas development on the environment.

Bryan Danowski, who lives across from the proposed site, was worried about noise, emissions and water.

“If I take a shower and my wife takes a shower, we don’t have enough water for the day,” he said.

Deirdre Lally, who has family in Salem Township, spoke on behalf of her mother. Lally said she had to evacuate her home in Benton because of a natural gas pipeline rupture near her house. She said people with compromised respiratory systems “might want to fight this plant or consider moving.”

In related news, Talen Renewable Energy will have a new owner.

Rob Leonard, who lives near the proposed site, doubted the plant would give residents tax breaks or reduced energy rates.

“I don’t see how pulling any more water out of this ground is going to benefit this community,” he said. “I don’t see how adding more emissions will benefit the community.”

Those who favored the plant believed it would give the same type of economic boost as the neighboring nuclear plant.

Samson said the Moxie facility would provide 25 to 27 permanent jobs and, during construction, a peak of 600 to 650 jobs.

“The area needs more good-paying jobs,” Leonard Rossi of Nescopeck said, adding that local restaurants and other businesses would benefit from the new plant.

Gary Gregory of Conyngham Borough also mentioned the creation of family-sustaining jobs, and noted the opportunity to replace coal-fired power plants.

“I want to see it done right, and I have confidence it will be done right,” he said.

Connolly said a decision on the permit will take a few more months. She said DEP will accept public comments by email or regular mail until July 17. The agency will then prepare a comment response document, which takes about six weeks, and continue its technical review.

The state Department of Environmental Protection will accept public comments via mail or email until 4 p.m. on Friday, July 17.

Comments should be addressed to DEP, Air Quality, 2 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701 or emailed to coconnolly@pa.gov.

 

This article was written by Elizabeth Skrapits from The Citizens’ Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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