A large, proposed plant in Wyalusing Township that would convert natural gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG) cleared a regulatory hurdle on Wednesday, Nov. 7 when the township planning commission recommended that two conditional use permits be approved for the facility.
The plant, which New Fortress Energy is proposing to construct along Route 6, would produce 3.5 million gallons of LNG a day, said Brannen McElmurray, head of development for New Fortress Energy.
To put the significance of the plant in perspective, the LNG produced by the plant would produce more power than the recently constructed Panda Liberty power plant in Asylum Township, which can supply the power needs of one million homes.
Three and a half million gallons of LNG per day produces 1,000 megawatts of power, and the Panda Liberty power plant produces 829 megawatts of power, according to Jake Suski, a spokesman for New Fortress Energy.
The plant would be located on 265 acres of land, including the land where Bluhm's Gas Sales and the Wyalusing Livestock Market are currently located, and the buildings used by both of those businesses would be torn down to make way for the plant.
At the planning commission meeting, several citizens raised safety issues about the numerous trucks that would be arriving at the facility and expressed concern about the visual impact the plant would have.
There would be 10 to 15 tractor trailers an hour entering and exiting from the facility, which would be open 24 hours per day, McElmurray said.
To make the truck traffic near the facility safer, New Fortress Energy is proposing to create a turning lane for westbound traffic on Route 6 that is turning left into one of the plant's three driveways, he said. New Fortress Energy would supply the land that is needed to create the turning lane, which would need to be approved by the state Department of Transportation, he added.
Bill Blevins, who lives next door to the proposed site of the plant, was concerned about the visual impact and said the value of his property "just got shot to hell."
Blevins said he would like to see a traffic light installed at the intersection of Route 6 and the driveway served by the proposed turning lane.
McElmurray said that if the community and PennDOT wanted a traffic light at the intersection, New Fortress Energy would be happy to install it.
One of the conditional use permits is needed because 15 structures at the plant would be higher than 60 feet, which is a limit set by the township's zoning ordinance for land that is not zoned for industrial use, said Chris Wood, an engineer who has reviewed the plans for the plant on behalf of the township. The plant would be located in the township's Agricultural-Residential zoning district.
The highest of the plant's structures would be a 135-foot-tall storage tank for LNG, which would have a 40-foot-tall crane installed on top of it, McElmurray said, bringing the total height of the structure to 175 feet. However, because land on the property slopes downward from Route 6 toward the Susquehanna River, the base of the tank will be 30 feet below the elevation of the highway, making the tank and the crane less visible from Route 6.
Among the other structures that exceed the 60-foot limit are exhaust stacks.
"We did our best to minimize the visual impacts of the plant, particularly for traffic on Route 6," McElmurray said.
As much as was possible, the plant was designed to keep it under the height limits set by the zoning ordinance, he said. If a structure exceeded the 60-foot limit, it was only because "we had to," he said.
In addition, the plant was designed so that the taller structures at the plant would be as far away from Route 6 as possible, he noted.
The plant's taller structures are at least 850 feet away from Route 6, according to New Fortress Energy.
"From the highway (Route 6), the plant is pretty far back," McElmurray said in an interview before the meeting. "With the right landscaping and vegetation, I'm not saying you won't see it, but it will be nowhere as visually impactful as you might think."
The other conditional use permit is needed in order to construct a natural gas processing facility in the Agricultural-Residential zoning district.
The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend to the township supervisors that they grant the two conditional use permits for the plant.
In addition, the planning commission members at the meeting, Bob Westover, Jim Souto, George Hugo and Alice Allyn, recommended that the supervisors approve the consolidation of nine parcels of land now owned by New Fortress Energy into a single parcel, on which the plant would be constructed.
The plant would process natural gas piped to the plant from a nearby gathering system that transports natural gas produced by local gas wells. The plant would purify the natural gas by removing, for example, long-chain hydrocarbons.
After being purified, the gas would be cooled so that it condenses to liquefied natural gas. The gas condenses to its liquid form at minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit.
Initially, only trucks would transport the LNG from the plant.
But eventually, New Fortress Energy intends to ship a significant amount of the LNG produced by the plant via rail, using the Norfolk-Southern Railway line that passes through the land on which the plant would be built, McElmurray said.
He said the plant would increase natural gas production in the area, and thus increase gas royalties paid to local landowners.
The plant would help solve a problem facing the area: an insufficient number of gas pipelines to carry locally produced Marcellus natural gas to markets in other areas of the country, McElmurray said.
"You are blessed with an amazing resource, natural gas, which is abundant in this area," he explained to those at the meeting. "You are sitting on probably one of the most prolific gas resources on the planet. But there is not enough traditional pipeline to take it to ... markets. (The plant) can bring additional production on line ... without the need for additional pipeline structures."
The plant's emissions into the atmosphere would be "really, really low," and would be below all federal limits, McElmurray said.
The atmospheric emissions would come from the equipment on site that would use natural gas to generate electricity to power the plant, he said. That equipment would generate 85 megawatts or less of electricity, "which is really small in the world of power," McElmurray said.
The plant would not only generate its own electricity but would use four water wells on site and have on-lot sewage, he added.
The plant will not be a burden on local utility companies, he said.
McElmurray said the plant itself will not consume water, and it will not generate byproducts.
The impurities taken out of the gas, which are just natural components that are not needed, will be burned on site, he said.
Any idea if this will help for those of us who were hoping to get leases, but missed the boat before? Do you think companies will again be interested in signing landowners?
Carolyn, new technology may be helpful here. As the US begins to use more natural gas that demand will slowly escalate. The new technologies are in both usage and drilling. Currently drilling longer legs from existing well pads means crossing new boundaries. Depending on the amount of gas trapped below your land you may be approached. But if you are, depend on knowledgeable attorneys and professionals to guide you in a lease. I know, I made no Golden promise here.
I read that the Wyalusing Township supervisors approved their end of the planned construction. Any other news?