Proposed power plant in Clinton Township gains opposition
MONTGOMERY – Almost two hundred people attended last Thursday’s public hearing with the Department of Environmental Protection for a proposed 936 megawatt natural gas-fired power plant to be constructed soon in Clinton Township. Held in the Clinton Township Fire hall several Lycoming County residents expressed safety concerns and disapproval and distrust of DEP’s decision to approve Virginia-based Moxie Patriot LLC’s plan to build a combustion gas turbine and steam turbine to be fueled by natural gas.
Although DEP officials have stated that the proposal has met the lowest standard emission rates, many opposed the air quality plan. Nitrogen and carbon monoxide emissions are to be monitored by Moxie according to President, Aaron Samson. “The combustion turbines will be connected to two heat recovery steam generators where the hot exhaust gases from the combustion turbines will produce steam that will be directed to two steam turbines. The steam turbines will produce an additional 250 MW to 300 MW of electricity. At 60 percent efficiency, this will be the most efficient site in Pennsylvania,” said Samson. They hope to start construction this year depending on DEP’s process to move forward. “Modern gas versus coal is the cleanest, most efficient fuel we have available to us,” Samson said.
A resident expressed concern on where the water will be coming from to operate its extensive cooling system. “Most likely from the Montgomery Water Sewer Authority,” replied Samson. He added that for the past 5 to 8 years in utility planning, coal fired systems are a low growth and the company would like to take advantage of this area’s abundant natural gas.
“I have a problem with the self-monitoring and the examining,” commented a neighbor who lives near the proposed site on Saeger Station Road towards the river. “How are the people going to be protected?” he asked. Another neighbor was concerned over the one and half miles of electrical wiring that will run through their property, while others expressed concerns on the possibility of hazardous spills, gas leaks and emergency shutdowns.
A plan is in place for emissions control according to Muhammad Zaman, Environmental Program Manager with DEP. Much of the data and monitoring will be done on paper and submitted to DEP but the process and training for the regulations was opposed, and more questions arose as to how much research was done on the project. “DEP does not have authority to make a major impact. We do not control the project,” replied Zaman. “Our role is to make sure the emissions from the project meet the standards.”
Another resident asked about the capacity to generate 4,000 megawatts of power. Clyde Peeling from Allenwood questioned violations and many wanted to know if the air quality was evaluated for human quality. More concerns were over sensitive wetlands, global warming, heat escape, noise pollution, the consequences of explosives and 3.1 million tons of emissions per day. “What will the effects of this be on our children?” asked Carmeline Churba from Montgomery. She and her family own Mulligans Restaurant and 600 acres and a cabin nearby. “This is my husband’s hometown, a clean place to live, but not anymore with this project,” as she encouraged efforts to be made towards more cleaner, renewable energy. “We already have poor air quality. How do jobs trump my children’s health?” she added.
“Why do we need to trust you when you approve something like this?” asked Kevin Heatly, an environmental scientist from Wolf Township. “Green house gases do produce toxins! We’re not happy with DEP regulations.”
Many favored looking at alternative energy solutions such as wind and solar. “Natural gas is a demand product and we can’t rely just on wind or solar, although we are not opposed to these projects. All modern technologies have a place,” said Samson.
Linda Scott from Montgomery said that there is no guarantee of not burning any chemicals in the fluids. “This will be in my back yard,” she said. DEP reassured by saying that this will be one of the lowest green house gas emissions in the nation. “What is this going to do to my well water and the price of my house which has now depreciated. Who wants this in their back yard,” asked Scott.
Montgomery mayor, Andy Onufrak feels this will be a good thing for the area. “We can’t support wind or coal, so this makes sense to me. It’s a good thing for us.” Terry Peck from the Central PA Building Trades Construction Council was also in favor of the project. “Carbon emissions will possibly stand idle because of cleaner natural gas. Our position is to move forward on this,” he said. “Jobs will be created and building trades workers employed.”
Deidre Lally from Benton discussed the potential health hazards and neurological impacts, coughing and upper respiratory conditions. “How can pumping gas be more important than these health conditions?” Traffic from trucks, more compressor stations, tainted wells, loss of organic foods and agricultural land and air pollution will all add a burden to our land according to Alicia Suley, also from Benton.
Dr. Gregory Pais, a local medical practitioner gave some interesting statistics on ecological mishaps and reported 15,000 cases of allergy disorders here in Lycoming County out of 117,000 residents. Prolonged exposure to emissions can cause permanent lung damage. “Breathing is our most ecological act,” said Barb Jarmoska from Gamble Township.
To express concerns and opposition to this project, testimony can still be given to DEP until January 14 by sending it in writing to: DEP, Air Quality Program Manager, 208 W. Third Street, Williamsport, PA.