Wilkes-Barre, PA Suburb Votes to Block Marcellus Industry

It’s kind of unusual, but we suppose not totally unheard of, for a township in the heart of the Pennsylvania Marcellus region in the northeast to essentially reject the Marcellus industry and tell the industry it isn’t wanted in their town. That’s the very loud and clear message just sent by Dallas Township (Luzerne County, near Wilkes-Barre) in adopting new zoning regulations that limit businesses related to the Marcellus industry from operating anywhere but in ~10% of the town. And we’re not talking about drilling–there is no Marcellus drilling in Dallas, in fact none in Luzerne County at all. We’re talking about things like “compressor stations, metering stations, processing facilities, hydraulic fracturing water withdrawal and treatment services.” And such restrictions do impact the industry, especially those related to pipeline infrastructure.
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Wilkes-Barre Moxie Freedom NatGas Plant Taxes $752K per Year

As of September, the 1,000-megawatt Moxie Freedom Marcellus-fired power plant located near Wilkes-Barre, PA (Luzerne County) is up and running and feeding electricity it produces into the local power grid (see Moxie Freedom Marcellus-Fired Plant Near Wilkes-Barre Online). That means it’s now time to pay the piper–meaning it’s time to begin paying property taxes. How does a county value such a facility–the first of its kind in the county? They hire a private firm to do it, at a cost of $50,000! (Yikes, we’re in the wrong business.) The valuation is now done, and the private firm reckons Moxie Freedom is worth $42.2 million. Which means the facility will pay $752,000 per year in property taxes to various governmental entities.
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Moxie Freedom Marcellus-Fired Plant Near Wilkes-Barre Online

Moxie Freedom

The 1,000-megawatt Moxie Freedom Marcellus-fired power plant located near Wilkes-Barre, PA is now “transitioning to commercial operation.” The plant is up and running and soon will be feeding the electricity it produces into the local power grid. In June 2014, MDN broke the news that Moxie Energy was in the hunt to begin a third new Marcellus gas-powered electric plant project in Pennsylvania, near Wilkes-Barre (see Moxie Energy in Hunt for Third Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant?). In November 2015, Moxie selected Gemma Power to build the plant, and construction began a month later (see Moxie Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant Breaks Ground in NEPA). In June 2017, Caithness Energy (the owner) issued an update to say the plant will go online in May of this year (see NEPA Moxie Freedom Power Plant on Track for May 2018 Launch). That didn’t happen. However, we spotted a local newspaper article that quotes plant officials as saying they are right now in the process of transitioning to commercial operation…
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Trout Unlimited Launches Spy/Snitch Program for PennEast Pipeline

Let’s be right up front about how we feel about the innocent-sounding Trout Unlimited (TU). Four years ago the organization was outed as a radical, far-left environmentalist group–hellbent on opposing fossil fuels (see Trout Unlimited, Other Groups Outted as Radical Green Groups). We have zero respect for the organization. Yes, there are some well-meaning (hoodwinked, misguided) people who belong to it. Good people. But tricked into supporting an anti-American, anti-fossil fuel agenda. (You need to get out!) TU has just announced a new spy/snitch training program to keep an eye on the PennEast Pipeline–when it actually starts to get built. TU will soon begin training for a so-called “water monitoring” program in PA counties where PennEast will run–Luzerne, Carbon, Northampton and Bucks counties. To which we say, knock yourselves out. PennEast has nothing to hide. The pipeline won’t negatively impact waterways–not in any meaningful, long-term way. So if you want to spy and snitch, go right ahead. There won’t be anything to snitch about…
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Cabot Says 2 NEPA Gas-Fired Plants Go Operational by June 1

Lackawanna Energy Center – concept drawing

Tucked away in the comments made by Cabot Oil & Gas CEO Dan Dinges on an investor conference call last Friday, MDN picked up on what we consider big news: Both the Moxie Freedom (Luzerne County, Wilkes-Barre area) and Lackawanna Energy Center (Lackawanna County, Scranton area) Marcellus-fired power plants are about to go fully operational–sometime in May (by June 1). Both plants will exclusively use Marcellus gas extracted by Cabot in Susquehanna County, PA. For nearly a year the plan had been for Moxie Freedom to be built and online in May of this year, so that announcement isn’t so much a surprise as it is welcomed news (see NEPA Moxie Freedom Power Plant on Track for May 2018 Launch). However, in March we reported Lackawanna was going through a “short” commissioning stage and would be firing up at any time (see Gas-Fired Power Plant Near Scranton Nears Startup; Yellow Smoke). The Lackawanna project has faced fierce local resistance. A group of Democrats got themselves elected to the local town board in Jessup, taking office in January, trying their best to block startup of the Lackawanna project by employing a Big Green lawyer (who works for Riverkeeper) at a cost to taxpayers of $225/hour. Looks like it was wasted money as Dinges says Lackawanna will be operational, with large volumes of Cabot gas flowing to it, within weeks…
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NEPA Hospital Building Marcellus-Fired Electric Plant

Concept drawing for Geisinger’s $18 million Central Utility Plant

A hospital in Wilkes-Barre, PA–the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center–has begun work on building a new $18 million Marcellus gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant. The new plant will cut the hospital’s energy consumption by 40% and save it around $1.5 million in energy costs annually. Cool! This is not the first time we’ve written about the trend among PA hospitals to build their own mini power plants, powered by natural gas. Last time we checked, in November, there were a dozen hospitals across the Keystone State that use CHP technology (see Lancaster Hospital Produces Its Own Electricity Using Marcellus Gas). Hospitals are not the only organizations that use CHP–universities, manufacturing plants and others use CHP too (see Website Connects Lenders/Borrows for Combined Heat & Power Projects). Here’s the news about the newest PA hospital to use CHP–an important new market for PA’s abundant, clean-burning Marcellus gas…
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Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Dismantles Old Barn in Pipeline’s Path

STOP PRESS! 1/2/18 – 2:00 pm – Below is the full, original post MDN issued two hours ago. Our reporting was based on an article in the very biased Citizens’ Voice, a daily newspaper published in Wilkes-Barre, PA by the same rabidly biased, anti-drilling owners of the Scranton Times-Tribune. We should have known–the article published by the Citizens’ Voice was egregiously WRONG. It left out important facts that completely change the story. Williams reached out to MDN to set the record straight. In a nutshell, Williams’ original route for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline through Luzerne County totally missed a barn on the property of Dale Wilkie. Wilkie asked Williams to reroute the pipeline across his property–through his barn! Williams obliged, offering him a generous amount for the easement PLUS Williams offered to build Wilke a brand, spanking new barn to replace the old one! Wilke got estimates to rebuild the 100-year old barn as it is, using chestnut wood, making the estimate astronomically high ($400,000). This puts the entire story in a new light. We have more below from Williams responding to the Citizens’ Voice journalistic malpractice…

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Atlantic Sunrise Work in NEPA Beginning “Very Soon,” Locals Hired

Williams representatives were on hand earlier this week in Tunhannock, PA (Wyoming County) to present a briefing to local politicians and community leaders on the status of the now-under construction Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project. Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile natural gas pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. Much of the attention has focused on Lancaster County and a small group of antis who oppose the project there. However, Atlantic Sunrise will begin its journey to Lancaster in Susquehanna County, PA–in the northeastern tip of the state. Construction in Susquehanna and adjacent counties is scheduled to begin “very soon,” according to Williams rep Mike Atchie. When it does begin, some of the people working on it will come from the same counties where it’s getting built. Last week the Teamsters held a job fair in Harrisburg (see Harrisburg Job Fair Oct 6-7 Looks to Fill 400 Pipeline Jobs). Of those streaming through, nearly 200 people filled out job applications. Five of the people who showed up have already been hired and are on job sites working–less than a week later! Another 100+ were enrolled in safety training classes and instructional courses. Here’s an update on the advent of Atlantic Sunrise construction in NEPA…
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UGI Adds Marcellus Gas Service to Town Between Scranton, W-B

It is a story we see happening more and more frequently–local distribution companies (LDCs, your local gas & electric company) are adding new customers in places previously not served by natural gas lines–because of the presence of the abundant, cheap, and clean-burning Marcellus Shale. The latest such story we noticed of this type comes from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. If you ever whiz through Scranton, and then Wilkes-Barre, motoring down Interstate 81 (as we’ve done hundreds of times over the years), one of the townships you pass through without knowing it is Dupont (in Luzerne County)–quite close to the regional airport in Avoca, not far from Montage Mountain ski resort, and a whisker away from Moosic. Utility giant UGI has begun a program to install natural gas pipelines to 123 homes in Dupont, to provide Marcellus Shale gas to those homes…
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One of Nation’s Largest NatGas Microgrids Coming to Philly Navy Yard

We’re starting to see more and more news about natural gas-fired microgrids, used for “peaking”. Microgrids are small electric generating plants, most often powered by natural gas. They usually produce a few megawatts of electricity. The concept of “peaking” means that during times of high electricity demand, these small microgrids kick on and produce electricity to help meet the demand. Although New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t want fracking in the Empire State, he’s in the midst of paying for 11 microgrids throughout the state–all of them using natural gas, mostly fracked gas from Pennsylvania (see NY Building Not Just One, but Eleven (!) NatGas-Fired Micogrids). These microgrids are an important new market for Marcellus/Utica Shale gas. So we perked up when we spotted a story about and press release from Ameresco, headquartered in Massachusetts, that is building a new 6-megawatt microgrid for peaking electricity at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It will, according to Ameresco, “anchor one of the largest private microgrids in the United States.” Although the announcement doesn’t say, we’re 99.99% sure the gas that will feed it will come from PA’s Marcellus Shale. In addition to the microgrid in Philly, Ameresco also announced a contract in northeast PA, with Luzerne Community College (Wilkes-Barre) to replace 21 outdated electric-resistance heating Roof Top Units (RTU), Heating and Ventilation Units (H&V), and Air Handling Units (AHU) with 21 new, natural gas-fired RTU’s and AHU’s. Yep, you read that right–dumping electric units for natgas units. How “cool” is that? (Pun intended)…
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Marcellus Gas Now Powers Mohegan Sun Casino in the Poconos

Mohegan Sun Pocono CEO & President, Anthony Carlucci, UGI Energy Services President, Joe Hartz, Director of Capital Expenditure for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, Jeff Seidel, and UGI Business Development Manager, Steve Johnson, all spoke at and celebrated this milestone. In attendance also, was Cassandra Coleman with the Pennsylvania Governor’s office and Chief of Staff for Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Carroll, Ron Ralston.
Click for larger version

The Mohegan Sun Pocono casino, located near Wilkes-Barre, PA, is now powered by Marcellus Shale gas. On June 20 casino officials along with utility giant UGI and local/state politicians gathered to unveil an all-new co-generation energy plant at the casino. The plant uses Marcellus Shale gas to create electricity. The resulting heat is also trapped and used, to heat water, etc. (the “co” in co-generation). The plant cost $3 million to build. Roughly $1 million from a grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority. The new plant reduces the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino’s so-called carbon footprint by 3,900 metric tons annually–it’s like taking 820 cars off the road. Here’s the story of how a fossil fuel–Marcellus Shale gas–is helping to clean up the environment, and make it cheaper to run the slot machines, at the same time…
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NEPA Moxie Freedom Power Plant on Track for May 2018 Launch

Artist’s rendering for Moxie Freedom project – click for larger version

In June 2014 MDN broke the news that Moxie Energy was in the hunt to begin a third new Marcellus gas-powered electric plant project in Pennsylvania, near Wilkes-Barre (see Moxie Energy in Hunt for Third Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant?). Indeed, our suspicions were borne out. In November 2015, Moxie selected Gemma Power to build the plant, and construction began a month later (see Moxie Marcellus-Powered Electric Plant Breaks Ground in NEPA). The 850-megawatt plant will use local Marcellus Shale gas to power it. Last September, Moxie contracted with EthosEnergy to run and maintain the plant (see Moxie Chooses EthosEnergy to Run NEPA NatGas Electric Plant). And since then, we haven’t heard anything. What’s the status of the plant? We spotted an update in a Wilkes-Barre newspaper from Caithness Energy (project builder) that says the project is on track to be “fully commercial next May, generating over 1,000 megawatts of electricity.” That’s interesting. Somewhere along the way the plant increased in size from 850 to 1,000+ megawatts. The update also states 23 of the 24 permanent positions are already hired and currently in training. Here’s the update…
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Air Products Closing Wilkes-Barre LNG Manufacturing Plant

Air Products owns a manufacturing plant located on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, PA. If you’ve ever heard of the Air Products business, you may conjure up an image of small cylinder tanks of helium or other “rare” gases sitting inside a chain fence. Yes, Air Products sells gases by the tank, but they also manufacture the mother of all gas tanks in their Wilkes-Barre facility–huge rocket-looking “production trains” or “heat exchangers,” which are pieces of equipment that turn natural gas into liquefied natural gas, or LNG. The heat exchangers manufactured by Air Products in Wilkes-Barre are two-thirds of a football field long (180 feet), used by plants all over the world to condense natural gas into a liquid. We’ve written about Air Products a few times, theorizing some of the heat exchangers they manufacture are being used by plants to liquefy Marcellus/Utica gas (see our Air Products stories here). Sadly, Air Products has just met with its employees at the Wilkes-Barre plant to let them know the plant close on August 1st, resulting in a layoff of 75 employees. Air Products is not getting out of the heat exchanger manufacturing business. They own a second plant in Port Manatee, Florida. The Wilkes-Barre plant is limited in the size of the exchangers it makes, while the Florida facility is not. Demand for shorter exchangers is down, meaning no work for the plant. Also, the Wilkes-Barre facility must ship the huge exchangers they manufacture via railroad to Philadelphia–a process that takes five days. The Florida facility is located at port where the exchangers are loaded directly onto ships heading to other countries, where much of the product is destined. It seems in the end, geography is what defeated Air Products’ Wilkes-Barre operation…Continue reading

PR Campaign Gets Atlantic Sunrise Pipe to Change Course in PA

Nesbitt Memorial Hospital – click for larger version

If you’re a landowner and want to dissuade a pipeline, like, say, the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, from crossing your property–what can you do? It helps if your property belongs to one of the local dynasties (i.e. BIG money) and if you can hire high-priced lawyers and issue a blizzard of press releases via Business Wire at $500 a pop. Apparently that’s what it takes to convince a pipeline company to change its course. At least, that’s the lesson we take away from Geraldine Nesbitt, landowner of The Nesbitt Parcel in Dallas Township (Luzerne County, near Wilkes-Barre), PA. Nesbitt has been 100% against the Atlantic Sunrise project since learning its proposed route would cross her big-monied estate. Nesbitt’s heir, Abram Nesbitt, once built a hospital in Kingston, PA that reminds of Downton Abbey (see the picture). Atlantic Sunrise is a $3 billion, 198-mile pipeline project running through 10 Pennsylvania counties to connect Marcellus Shale natural gas from northeastern PA with the Williams’ Transco pipeline in southern Lancaster County. In February the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave its final seal of approval for the project (see Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Gets Final Approval by FERC). After FERC’s approval, Ms. Nesbitt’s lawyers began an aggressive publicity campaign to try and convince FERC to stop the project. Last week Williams (builder of Atlantic Sunrise) filed a request with FERC to adopt an alternative route around the Nesbitt estate–and all of a sudden Ms. Nesbitt “has never been opposed to natural gas pipelines.” What disgusting hypocrisy. If Joe Farmer wants the pipeline rerouted around his prized hay field–good luck with that. But if an old-line establishment family with BIG MONEY like the Nesbitts wants a reroute, they get it. We don’t like it…
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NEPA Anti Newspaper Supports Eminent Domain for Pipelines

Luuucy! You have some ‘splainin’ to do! Somebody at the Scranton Times-Tribune, a reliably anti-drilling rag in the heart of Marcellus country, will have some explaining to do about an editorial that just ran in the Times-Tribune’s sister publication the Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice. We can’t remember the last time we read a positive editorial about the drilling industry in either the Times-Tribune or the Citizens’ Voice, but yesterday it happened. A editorial in the Citizens’ Voice deals with eminent domain being used for pipeline projects, including Atlantic Sunrise. You may recall we recently highlighted the news that Williams has (regrettably) had to file eminent domain cases against 27 holdout landowners in northeast PA (see Atlantic Sunrise Uses Eminent Domain in Northeast & Central PA). Spring-boarding from that news, the Citizens’ Voice editorial concludes that as distasteful as it is, there is precedence and the U.S. Constitution, allowing for it, and that eminent domain for pipelines actually accomplishes the “public good”…
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Atlantic Sunrise Uses Eminent Domain in Northeast & Central PA

As sometimes happens, Williams has had to file 27 eminent domain lawsuits against landowners in northeastern and central Pennsylvania–landowners who have refused to negotiate with the company to allow the now FERC-approved Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline to cross their property. We understand the reluctance of some landowners who would rather not have the pipeline cross their property. But we also understand the necessity of the project–and the need to be reasonable. Some landowners are not reasonable. And so eminent domain is a rare, option-of-last-resort necessity in those cases. But don’t shed too many tears for landowners now being sued. One PA landowner in Luzerne County (Wilkes-Barre area) was originally offered $260,000 for an easement on 7.6 acres of land ($34,211/acre!). He refused. The price has now dropped to $225,000. Guess he should have signed before eminent domain was on the table…
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