Charlie Melancon

Charlie Melancon

As 2019 came and went, Pennsylvanians can look back on the successful development of energy infrastructure projects as a bright spot. Projects such as the Competitive Power Venture (CPV) Fairview Energy Center, which recently came online, are prime examples of the opportunities afforded by investing in the state’s natural resources.

A couple of weeks before the Christmas holiday, CPV Fairview CEO Gary Lambert announced that the 1,050-megawatt plant is now supplying natural gas and ethane-fueled electric power to more than 1 million Pennsylvania homes and businesses.

Clearly, the commonwealth has much to be thankful for.

Lambert praised the project and its employees: “Thanks to the outstanding team effort with our partner Osaka Gas USA and Kiewit, our construction contractor, with General Electric as major equipment supplier. The CPV Fairview Energy Center is now fully operational on budget and significantly ahead of schedule.

“CPV continues to make strides toward modernizing the country’s electric generation supply and improving reliability while addressing sustainability concerns by lowering system-wide emissions, including carbon, by deploying the most efficient technology with the cleanest fuel available – natural gas.”

During construction, I had the unique privilege of touring the facility in August 2018. Especially beneficial is the plant’s supply of ethane from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, delivered by the Mariner East pipeline. This is just the most recent example of the direct benefit for Pennsylvania consumers through increased efficiency and affordability of energy, thanks to homegrown energy development.

Placed along Route 271 in Pennsylvania, CPV Fairview’s location used to be a salvage yard. After a couple years of construction, the plot now houses a state-of-the-art electricity generation facility that cost nearly $1 billion to construct.

During its construction, jobs were provided to local building and construction trade union workers, showcasing their abilities in getting the project completed ahead of schedule and safely.

Now operational, the plant will employ as many as 25 full-time employees with total salaries between $3 and $4 million annually. The plant will also generate important tax revenues for Cambria County to support services like emergency personnel, schools and hospitals.

Others have described the project and its accompanying tax revenues as a “windfall” for Jackson Township and the local area. The plant’s operators have agreed upon an annual host payment of a half million dollars, nearly four times the township’s entire tax base, for local those services.

These benefits are making positive impressions on local elected officials, with State Rep. Frank Burns (D-Cambria), noting: “For too long, our region has been left behind, while larger cities reap the benefits of economic development. This project is a key example of why Cambria County is a good place for business, and I remain committed to fighting for jobs and economic growth in the region.”

That’s true. But from what I have seen, success in 2019 hasn’t been unique to the CPV center. In fact, the project is really a culmination of investment in the state’s energy resources and benefits that span the entire state.

Energy production in western Pennsylvania has held steady in recent years, according to the Energy Information Association, giving confidence to drillers to continue applying for and acting on well permits. Pipeline operators are stepping in to outfit the state with the infrastructure to deliver the resources to energy facilities like CPV Fairview and beyond, including terminal facilities like the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in southeastern Pennsylvania.

CPV Fairview’s operation was a pleasant end to a positive year for Pennsylvania energy production. Bringing on an additional thousand-plus megawatts of electricity can offset the need to get electricity from other areas of the multi-state PJM grid network, with the in-state production delivering savings to commercial and residential customers.

Pennsylvania is quickly becoming the model state for energy infrastructure development. Private investment and thorough coordination with the state’s communities have allowed the production, processing, and delivery all to come online in tandem, quickly returning benefits to residents, who should be rightly charged up for Pennsylvania’s 2020.

Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana served on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversaw energy policy and environmental quality, and played an integral role in rebuilding Louisiana’s infrastructure following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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