Panda Power Funds, a Dallas-based private equity firm, has announced plans to build, own and operate an 859-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle power plant in an industrial area of Brandywine in Prince George’s County, Md.
Once commissioned, the natural gas-fueled generating station will be able to power about 859,000 homes in the Greater Maryland – Washington D.C. metropolitan area—a significant boost for Maryland, which imports 40 percent of its electricity from power plants in other states. The facility is expected to contribute approximately $1.2 billion to the area’s economy during construction and the plant’s first 10 years of operation.
According to Panda, the state-of-the-art Mattawoman generating station will use “the latest, most advanced emissions-control technology— making it one of the cleanest, most efficient natural gas-fueled power plants in the nation.”
What exactly is a combined-cycle plant? It uses the exhaust of one heat engine as the heat source for another, thus extracting double the useful energy and increasing overall efficiency. This works because heat engines are only able to use a portion of the energy their fuel generates (usually less than 50 percent). In conventional engine, the remaining heat (e.g., hot exhaust fumes) from combustion is generally wasted.
The Mattawoman plant also will use a “zero-liquid-discharge” process, returning no wastewater to a treatment facility and, thus, preventing the discharge of harmful chemicals into the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, potable water will not be used in the operation of the plant. The generating station will instead use recycled municipal waste water for cooling purposes in order to help conserve the state’s natural supply of drinking water.
Artist’s rendering show that the plant will be set back from the nearest road, to limit visual impact on the local community. (Courtesy of Panda Power Funds)
“Maryland state officials are clearly looking toward the needs of tomorrow, and we look forward to working with them to enhance the future reliability of the region’s power supply,” said Todd W. Carter, president and senior partner of Panda Power Funds. “We also look forward to continuing our relationship with the local community and helping ensure that the Mattawoman generating station is a positive for everyone concerned.”
“We’re very excited about this project,” said Gwen S. McCall, president and chief executive officer of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation. “This power plant will have a significant impact on our region’s economy for years to come. It will expand the tax base; enlarge payrolls and drive revenues for contractors, suppliers, engineering firms, hotels, restaurants, retailers and a host of other businesses. The plant will create an estimated 700 to 800 union construction jobs, 25 direct jobs to run the facility and 32 indirect jobs to support it. This is great for Southern Maryland.”
M.H. Jim Estepp, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, said Panda representatives have continuously reached out to community leaders since the beginning of the site selection process. “They’ve done an especially good job of listening to the people of Prince George’s and Charles’ Counties and incorporating what they’ve learned into the design of their plant.”
As a result, Panda has taken great care to minimize impacts to the local community. The plant will be located in an existing “I-2” heavy industrial zone, not a rural tier, in order to preserve home values. To reduce sightlines, the facility has been designed with one of the lowest profiles of any power plant in the United States. Indeed, the plant will be 26 feet lower than a nearby weather radar station; and will be set back from the road about 565 yards, and shielded from view by trees and landscaping.
The Panda Mattawoman plant will be located between Air Force road and the CSX rail line off Brandywine Road. Construction of the Mattawoman project will take approximately 30 months and is dependent upon financing, regulatory approvals and other conditions.
The firm did not disclose total construction costs, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration has estimated that the cost of the relatively more efficient but costly combined-cycle gas plant of the type proposed by Panda is about $1 million per megawatt, which would be about $860 million for this project, according to the Fort Mill Times.
Panda Power—which also owns a solar farm in New Jersey and has three power plants under construction in Texas—was founded in 2010.
Edited by Alisen Downey