SWPA Gas-fired Elec Plant Next to Pot Farm Nears Final Approval

Last October MDN told you that a second Marcellus gas-fired electric generating plant is planned for Greene County, PA (see 2nd Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant Proposed for Greene County, PA). Hill Top Energy Center, based in Huntington Bay, N.Y., is planning to build a 620 megawatt plant on 41 acres of land off Thomas Road in Cumberland Township. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a public hearing in early November, and in early December the DEP issued an air quality permit for the project (see PA DEP Issues Air Permit for Gas-fired Elec Plant Next to Pot Farm). The plant will be built next door to a “medical marijuana operation”–i.e., a pot growing farm. Here’s an idea: Why not burn pot to generate the electricity instead of natgas? Roughly the same CO2 footprint, with the added benefit of lacing the air in the region with happy smoke. Oh well, back to reality. What’s left to do before construction begins on the Hill Top Energy Center? The facility needs a building permit from Cumberland Township. Plans will be reviewed at the next town meeting on July 2. If the plans are approved, a building permit will follow in short order. However, Hill Top says they don’t plan to begin construction until early 2019…
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EQT Pays PA DCNR $874,200 to Lease Under Ten Mile Creek

This is a story that continues to bug us. The state of Pennsylvania, specifically the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), is grabbing money that we think belongs to private landowners. The DCNR has been, for years, claimed that under a centuries-old law that the state of PA “owns” the property under “navigable” waterways–including rivers and streams (see PA DCNR Publishes Lease Agreements for Deals Under Rivers/Creeks). We understand the state claiming the Delaware River, and maybe the Susquehanna River, is a “navigable” body of water. The DCNR uses the “navigable waterway” excuse to sign leases with drillers under much smaller waterways than the Delaware and Susquehanna–siphoning money that would have gone to landowners. A landowner might own the land on both sides of, say, Ten Mile Creek, as we’re sure happens. However, the land under Ten Mile Creek does not technically belong to them. In fact, certain long portions of the land under Ten Mile Creek are now leased to EQT, and EQT paid handsomely for it. The company leased 218.55 acres under Ten Mile Creek in Greene and Washington counties (southwestern PA) for $874,200, which works out to be exactly $4,000 per acre! Not to mention a whopping 20% royalty! That’s money that (in our opinion) should go to the landowners who own the land along the creek, not to the state. Until landowners sue or the legislature acts, the state will continue to pick the pockets of landowners who own land along PA’s waterways…
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Energy Corp of America Fined $1.7M for Drilling Violations in PA

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has just collected a whopping $1.7 million fine from Energy Corporation of America (ECA) for violations at 17 well sites in Cumberland, Jefferson, and Whiteley Townships in Greene County, and Goshen Township in Clearfield County. ECA’s violations? “Failure to properly contains fluids in onsite pits, unauthorized discharge of industrial waste into groundwater, unauthorized disposal of residual waste, failure to restore the pits and well sites, and operating solid waste storage, treatment, and transfer facilities without permits.” Pretty serious stuff. Essentially, ECA (according to DEP) was sloppy in how they handled flowback and brine, using open pits to store it long after their use was outlawed under new Chapter 78a regulations were adopted. Spills from those pits contaminated a water well of one nearby resident. It’s interesting to MDN that as you read the consent order (full copy below), not only is ECA listed, but also “Greylock Production.” You may recall our news from late last year that ECA reorganized itself under a new name–Greylock Energy–shafting existing shareholders in favor of a new investor, ArcLight Capital (see ECA Sells Marcellus/Utica Assets to ArcLight Capital – Shareholders Shafted). The fine was assessed against and paid by ECA and Greylock jointly, confirming our conclusion that ECA had simply changed the nameplate on the door to Greylock…
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CNX Resources Clipped $433.5K for Groundwater Violations in SWPA

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined CNX Resources (formerly CONSOL Energy/CNX Gas) $433,500 for violations at four shale well sites in Greene County, PA. The violations, which happened in 2015/2016, include failure to control and dispose of wastewater properly and failure to prevent erosion. Some of the flowback/wastewater ended up in a small stream called Jacobs Run. We always find the language of these announcements by the DEP somewhat strange: “CNX Gas Company, LLC (CNX) has agreed to two civil penalties totaling $433,500 for violations at well sites in Greene County.” Really? The company getting fined has to “agree” to accept the fine? Apparently we don’t fully understand how regulatory agencies work in PA. What if CNX didn’t agree to the fine? Would the DEP come back with a lower amount, “Will you accept this fine instead?” But we digress. CNX themselves noticed the problems and self-reported the violations. After doing so, they fired two of the service companies they were using. The unnamed service companies were obviously guilty of cutting corners that resulted in improper disposal of wastewater. Interesting factoid: Half of all the wells CNX has drilled in PA are located in Greene County…
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PA DEP Issues Air Permit for Gas-fired Elec Plant Next to Pot Farm

In early October MDN told you about a second Marcellus gas-fired electric generating plant being planned for Greene County, PA (see 2nd Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant Proposed for Greene County, PA). Hill Top Energy Center, based in Huntington Bay, N.Y., is planning to build a 620 megawatt plant (original story had it wrong, saying 536 MW) on 41 acres of land off Thomas Road in Cumberland Township. The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a public hearing in early November about the project. Only 20 people turned up and nobody objected. Last Friday the DEP issued an air quality permit for the project–the last major hurdle before the project can begin. In press coverage of the permit and the project advancing, we discovered one piece of new information: The plant will be built next door to a “medical marijuana operation”–i.e., a pot growing farm. Well now that’s interesting! Workers at the new electric plant can slip out the back door on break and roll a joint for later…
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Greene County, PA Green Lights APV Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant

In March MDN brought you the news that APV Renaissance Partners (a subsidiary of American Power Ventures) wants to build a 1000 megawatt, combined-cycle power plant at the old Hatfield’s Ferry site in Greene County, PA–to be powered with Marcellus Shale gas (see Marcellus Gas-Fired Power Plant Coming to Greene County, PA). In April, APV officially unveiled their plans for the old Hatfield’s Ferry site, in Monongahela Township (see More Details on Marcellus Power Plant Coming to Greene County, PA). On Monday, the Greene County Planning Commission granted conditional final approval for the project. Before APV gets final final approval from the county, it must first meet a number of conditions–most of them a part of the state permitting process. Here’s the good news that the APV project is one step closer to reality…
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2nd Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant Proposed for Greene County, PA

In reporting on APV Renaissance Partners’ plan to build a 1000 megawatt electric power plant in Monongahela Township (Greene County), PA, today, we noticed an interesting closing paragraph in the story we quoted, which says: “Another energy company, Hill Top Energy Center, also has proposed constructing a natural gas power plant in Greene County. Hill Top has proposed building a 536-megawatt plant on 41 acres of land off Thomas Road in Cumberland Township. A public hearing on Hill Top’s proposed air quality plan will be held by DEP at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 in the Carmichaels Area High School auditorium.” A second Marcellus-fired power plant planned for Greene! Who knew? We went searching for details we could find to share with you about this second project, which will get a DEP hearing in a month…
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LOLA Energy Sells Out to Rice Energy, Deal Kept Hush-Hush

NGI’s Shale Daily has done it again. Ace reporter Jamison Cocklin has unearthed news that (so far) no one else has: Rice Energy has quietly, confidentially, hush-hush purchased all of the assets of LOLA Energy. The sale raises a lot of questions. But first, who is LOLA? No, not the show girl in Barry Manilow’s 1978 hit song Copacabana. LOLA Energy was birthed near the end of 2015, by former EQT executives using $250 million of private equity money from Denham Capital (see New Marcellus/Utica Drilling Company is Born – LOLA Energy). The name LOLA comes from the phrase Locally Owned, Locally Accountable. LOLA didn’t waste any time. They leased land in Greene County, PA–a prime location highly prized by both Rice Energy and EQT–and also in West Virginia, land in Monongalia, Wetzel and Marion counties. Shale Daily reports that rumors have been swirling for weeks, but NGI now has the goods–copies of transfer records going from LOLA to Rice. For some reason, perhaps related to EQT’s impending purchase of Rice Energy, Rice and LOLA have kept the deal hush-hush. But the lid is off now! Here’s what we know about the deal, sprinkled with some MDN speculation…
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More Details on Marcellus Power Plant Coming to Greene County, PA

In March MDN brought you the news that APV Renaissance Partners (a subsidiary of American Power Ventures) will submit a permit to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) “within the next month” for a combined-cycle power plant at the old Hatfield’s Ferry site in Greene County, PA–to be powered with Marcellus Shale gas (see Marcellus Gas-Fired Power Plant Coming to Greene County, PA). That story generated a LOT of interest. At a meeting yesterday, APV officially unveiled their plans for the old Hatfield’s Ferry site. Also, coordinated to hit at the same time, FirstEnergy issued a press release outlining the deal, updating us on the fate of the rest of the site (APV will only use a small portion of the old coal-fired site). In what seems to be another bit of coordinated timing, the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection recently visited the old coal plant site and issued violations of environmental codes that exist at the site. (Somebody always has to rain on the parade.) Below is updated information on the exciting news that a new 1,000-megawatt combined cycle Marcellus gas facility, “one of the cleanest burning plants in the world,” will get built on 33 acres at the former coal plant site in Greene County…
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5 Big & Small Marcellus-Powered Electric Plants Coming in SWPA

It’s hard to keep track of all the Marcellus and Utica Shale-fired electric plants being planned, built and going online. We recently highlighted a list of 11 such projects getting built in Ohio (see List of 11 Utica Shale Electric Plants Coming Soon to Ohio). We’ve covered many projects in Pennsylvania, and in other states like Michigan, Indiana, and West Virginia (see our list of powergen stories here). We spotted an article on the Pittsburgh Business Times website that focuses on a company we’ve written about before: IMG Midstream. They zig when everyone else zags. Most gas-fired power generation projects are big–700, 800, 900 megawatts or more. In fact, we highlight a project announced for Greene County in a companion story today that will be 1,000 megawatts (see More Details on Marcellus Power Plant Coming to Greene County, PA). At some point we’ll tackle a roundup of all the projects in PA, but for now, let’s take a look at five powergen projects in southwestern PA that are either under construction, or are permitted and soon will be under construction. They range in size from 20 megawatts (tiny!) to 950 megawatts (big!)…
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Marcellus Gas-Fired Power Plant Coming to Greene County, PA

Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station

In 2013, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. decided to close down a coal-fired electric generating plant in Greene County, PA, called Hatfield’s Ferry. The plant, which was losing money according to FirstEnergy, produced 1,710 megawatts of electricity. Since that time the plant has set idle. However, that may soon change. APV Renaissance Partners (subsidiary of American Power Ventures) will submit a permit to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) “within the next month” for a combined-cycle power plant at the old Hatfield’s Ferry site–to be powered with Marcellus Shale gas…
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Rice Energy Spending $1.5B in M-U, Leasing 15K Acres in 2017

Rice Energy turned in it’s 2016 update this week, along with a look at what’s coming in 2017. As for top line financial numbers, Rice lost about the same in 2016 as they did in 2015: A loss off $298 million in 2016 vs. a loss of $291 million in 2015. Although Rice owns and drills on a small acreage position in the Texas Barnett Shale, the vast majority of their focus continues to be in the Marcellus/Utica. The company plans to spend $1.5 billion in 2017, broken out as follows: $1.035 billion for drilling and completion activity in the Marcellus/Utica shale plays; $225 million for land purchases; and $315 million spent by Rice Midstream ($255 million for gas gathering and compression and $60 million on water services). With that money, Rice expects to drill 75 new wells and complete another 55 wells in the Marcellus in 2017. In the Utica, Rice plans to drill 20 new wells and complete 20 wells in 2017. Land acquisition will happen in three counties: Greene and Washington Counties (in PA), and Belmont County (in OH). How much will they pay, on average, to lease new acreage? We have an answer for that…
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Top 20 Marcellus Drillers in Southwest Pennsylvania

The sharp folks over at the Pittsburgh Business Times have been looking through data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and have compiled a list of 20 drillers who have at least a dozen shale wells in the southwest PA region. And they ranked them from lowest to highest. We’ve grabbed the list below. The interesting thing for MDN is that there is one name in the list not familiar to us, and we’ve been watching this space since 2009. Always fun to learn something new. Here’s the list of southwest PA’s “Top 20” Marcellus drillers…
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PA DEP Fines Rice Energy $3.5M for Multiple Well/Pipe Violations

It’s certainly not THE highest, but it is certainly one of the highest fines we’ve seen assessed by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Yesterday the DEP fined Rice Energy $3.5 million “for multiple violations of environmental laws at 10 well sites and 6 pipeline locations.” The violations, spanning “several years,” occurred at sites in Washington and Greene counties. Here’s the details…
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PA’s Allegheny, Washington, Greene Counties in “Core of the Core”

We spotted an article on the topic of forced pooling in Pennsylvania. Forced pooling is always an interesting topic for MDN. However, it was not pooling, but the article’s details on three southwestern counties in PA that really caught our attention. According to the author (in quoting two geology experts), Allegheny County (i.e. Pittsburgh), along with nearby Washington and Greene counties are located in the “core of the core” or the very best of the very best parts of the Marcellus Shale play. The article also references research by Range Resources which says Allegheny and Washington counties have the “highest in-place gas reserves not only in the Appalachian Basin but ‘perhaps the world’.” Yikes! That’s pretty enthusiastic language about the gas supplies trapped under Pittsburgh and surrounding areas–and great news for landowners in those counties…
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PA DEP Says Ten Mile Creek Radiation-Free; Antis Still Peddle Lies

no-radiationIn 2014 Pennsylvania anti-drillers from a local chapter of the Izaak Walton League, a so-called conservation organization, attempted a smear job on the Marcellus Shale industry. They alleged that shale drillers were illegally dumping frack wastewater in an abandoned coal mine, the Clyde Mine, which sits near the Ten Mile Creek where the creek joins the Monongahela River. According to the smearmeisters, the illegally dumped wastewater was leaking out of the mine and into Ten Mile Creek (see Is Shale Wastewater Causing Radiation Spike in Ten Mile Creek?). They claimed testing they had done showed high levels of radioactivity that could not come from just acid mine drainage, that it is radioactivity typically seen in shale wastewater. Of course the allegations got a lot of media attention. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) investigated and echoed their concerns with initial tests also showing high radioactivity. Except the testing done by the DEP, and the testing done by the Izaak Walton League, WAS THE WRONG TYPE OF TEST. They blew it. Researchers from West Virginia University came in and tested using the appropriate type of test and found no elevated radioactivity (see PA DEP Screws Up Water Test at Ten Mile Creek – Egg on Face). After the humiliation of being outed as using the wrong test, the DEP re-ran tests for six months in 2015–the right kind of tests–and found NO elevated radioactivity in Ten Mile Creek nor anywhere else in the area (see PA DEP Admits No Radiation in Ten Mile Creek, Closes Investigation). The DEP has continued to run tests since that time and issued a final report in November (full copy below) finding, once again, NO elevated levels of radiation in Ten Mile Creek. The response by anti-drilling radicals with an agenda to smear the Marcellus industry? Unbelievably, they once again repeated their allegation of illegal wastewater dumping…
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