On Monday, the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the siting certificate for Moundsville Power LLC to construct a 549-MW combined cycle natural gas power plant in Marshall County. It will be the first to also burn ethane. The company is also touting the project’s role in helping to offset the effect of area coal plant closings.

With the PSC approval in hand, Moundsville Power’s next step is financing. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2015, and the plant is expected to be operational in early 2018. The Moundsville Power facility will be a wholesale generator for the PJM grid.

The plant will utilize $105 million of natural gas and ethane annually sourced from West Virginia producers and processors.  Located in the center of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, it will have direct access to local gas from numerous providers. The 37-acre Superfund site south of Moundsville, which previously held the Allied Chemical Plant, is within 7 miles of three interstate pipelines. Once operational, it is expected to be the largest user of natural gas in the state.

Black & Veatch will design and build the plant.  General Electric will provide the natural gas and steam turbines as well as other power island equipment. The plant will use GE 7F.04 gas turbines in a 2 x 1 configuration. GE will also provide a long-term maintenance agreement.

According to an economic impact study performed by Tom S. Witt, PhD of Witt Economics LLC in Morgantown, W.V., the project will average more than 400 construction jobs during the estimated 30-month construction period.  Witt projected the annual economic impact during construction would be in excess of $815 million. The plant will have an annual operating impact of more than $283 million and will employ 30 workers when operational.

The Witt report says the plant “will use natural gas and otherwise underutilized ethane provided from West Virginia natural gas suppliers.” The ethane will be blended with natural gas and, when it is not available, the plant will burn more gas.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ethane, a natural gas liquid, is most commonly used in manufacturing plastics (including plastic bags) as well as a petrochemical feedstock

Gail Reitenbach, PhD, Editor (@GailReit, @POWERmagazine)