New power plant in Jackson Township could rejuvenate the region
JACKSON TOWNSHIP – It has been a multiyear process for Boston-based company Competitive Power Ventures as they continue to expand their company into the local area.
Building the new expansion has taken countless hours of work from the permitting to acquiring and purchasing land in Cambria County to securing $700 million in financing.
In a matter of months, the Fairview Energy Center will have its groundbreaking.
It will be a natural gas power plant in rural Jackson Township, and something that could transform this area and regenerate the entire region.
Our Jen Johnson went to the CPV power plant in Woodbridge, New Jersey to see what types of changes the local community could expect.
Woodbridge Energy generates enough electricity to power more than 700,000 homes.
"Any sort of protective device in the facility, that's monitoring pressures and temperatures will shut the plant down and it’s up to the operator to make sure it happens in a safe way. Most times it's referred to as the brains of the facility,” said Ken Earl the plant manager.
Earl then explained the next step is the water treatment facility, where water from the city is brought in, and purified for a boiler for the steam cycle.
This combined cycle plant can produce more electricity with the same amount of natural gas.
"So we're burning a bit of gas, and making electricity with that, but then we're taking that hot exhaust and making steam, that we then make electricity with again, without having to burn more fuel."
You also can't miss the cooling towers, where Woodbridge uses "grey water" in its cooling process which essentially is waste water that would otherwise be discharged into the nearby river.
"We have a very lean staff and that really comes down to the fact that the facility is fully automated. It doesn't take a lot of operator intervention. So, the coal plant of yester-year where it took hundreds of people to operate the plant, that's just not the reality anymore in our industry."
"It was 160 acres, a lot of wetlands a lot of contamination, anytime you see people in white suits cleaning it up you know it's bad,” said the Woodbridge Township Mayor John McCormac.
McCormac help negotiate the deal to bring the power plant to his township
"It's worth it for us because we got the ground cleaned up, we brought jobs into town, and we brought economic activity into town and we get taxes from a project where for the last 30 years there was nothing.”
Woodbridge Township has allocated a lot money for its school district and physical projects that benefit the community.
In just a couple of years, leaders will have completely overhauled the facilities at Woodbridge High from its stadium to new seating in the gymnasium and auditorium.
"I've seen this school transform from not only a physical space but just the spirit of the school transform as well,” said Principal Matthew Connelly.
The district is made up of 14,000 students who attend one of the its two dozen schools.
Central Cambria School District is expected to feel the impact here at home
It's money the superintendent said could be used on capital needs like new rooftops and boilers.
"We understand this is a great investment that we really need that the township and greater Johnstown area hasn't seen in a really long time,” said vice president of CPV Mike Resca.
CPV said the Fairview Energy Center in Cambria County is expected to be operational in early 2020.
It will generate electricity to power for more than one million Pennsylvania homes, and will pump hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue into the region.
"We're also going to donate $500,000 a year, for every year the project is operational,” said Resca.
The site for the Cambria County factory in active already.
Workers can be seen cleaning this former brown field site and preparing it for the foundation.
At peak construction, there will be between 300 and 500 workers will be on site.
All construction contracts have been completed, and CPV said several local contractors will be doing the work.