Linda Thomson

Linda Thomson of JARI speaks during a Showcase for Commerce press conference on Thursday, June 2, 2016. Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat

While the rich Marcellus and Utica shale plays have ushered in a new era of economic opportunity, we have leaders in the private and public sectors to thank for making this opportunity a reality for our region.

By now, most people have heard about the $900 million investment that CPV Fairview is making with its Fairview Energy Center, a 1,050-megawatt electric generating station in Jackson Township that represents the single largest private investment in Cambria County’s history.

Expected to be operational by early 2020, the facility could be the first in the United States to generate electricity using natural gas (methane) and ethane, providing enough energy to meet the needs of 1 million Pennsylvania homes.

What might not be so well known is that this plant will draw heavily from Sunoco’s Mariner East pipelines to maximize efficiency.

The Jackson Township site was attractive specifically because CPV has access to natural gas and ethane and can tap right into Sunoco’s Mariner East pipelines that run through the project property.

I have learned that ethane from Mariner East will be able to supply about 20 percent of the center’s fuel, depending on the needs at any given time. Because it’s so close to Sunoco’s pipelines, CPV Fairview will use Mariner East’s existing right of way, creating a clean environmental footprint.

Johnstown Area Regional Industries’ participation and membership in the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance has provided us with the tools and resources to understand the economic benefits from pipeline development.

Local leaders at all levels – from Jackson Township to Cambria County to our Harrisburg delegation – have been hard at work promoting the suitability of the area for just such a project. In particular, this energy center not only will revitalize an inactive brownfield, but it will boost the regional economy.

The CPV project will create up to 500 construction jobs, in addition to 20 to 25 new jobs when the facility is operational.

I have heard people say that pipelines such as Mariner East move our resources across the state without benefiting locals, but I can say otherwise in Cambria County.

I believe pipelines are critical arteries for the nation’s domestic energy and manufacturing sectors, bolstering American jobs, fostering local economic growth and increasing our energy independence.

Cambria County will directly benefit from this project.

This latest collaboration between Sunoco, CPV and local leadership is a perfect example of how local support can encourage corporations to combine their strengths to create the most efficient ventures, give back to local communities and create a sustainable future for Pennsylvanians.

Linda Thomson is president of JARI, a nonprofit economic development organization that has partnered with the business community in Cambria and Somerset counties since 1974.

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