Panel: Gas, electricity abundant in Valley

September 5, 2019
In The News

LEWISBURG — Leaders in energy provided a positive outlook for the Valley during an energy briefing in Lewisburg on Wednesday,

The Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted a Think About Energy Briefing with George Stark, of Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation; Joe McGinn, of Energy Transfer; Joe Lloyd, of Panda Power; and U.S. Rep. Fred Keller (R-12). The program at Country Cupboard was designed by the chamber to provide an understanding of the economic and environmental opportunities afforded by Pennsylvania and the Appalachian Region's natural gas reserves.

"I honestly think the future is bright in the sense you do have an abundant resource of natural gas and an abundant resource of electricity," said Stark. "Those the building blocks for manufacturers."

There is an opportunity for growth in manufacturing and other businesses that use natural gas produced by Cabot and transferred by Energy Transfer, said Keller.

"When you look at the implications that natural gas has just for jobs it's not just related to that (natural gas) industry," said Keller. "It's related to any start-ups or any business. We have the hydroponics greenhouse being built in the Pawling Station Industrial Park. We have the one (power plant) that's going down in Shamokin Dam next to the Hummel Station."

BrightFarms, which broke ground in May in Penn Township, is building a 263,000-square-foot salad green growing and packaging plant. The hydroponics greenhouse where two million pounds of salad greens will be grown each year in nutrient-rich water and packaging plant will be completed in late December.

The billion-dollar Panda Hummel Station power plant, which went live in 2018, is built on 20 acres of about 200 owned by Sunbury Generation, all designated by the state as a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone with tax incentives for developers. Sunbury Generation announced plans in 2017 to pursue planning a second natural gas plant.

'Natural gas is here'

Ten to 15 years ago, the energy jobs were offshore, but today they are here in Pennsylvania, said Stark.

"Natural gas is here," he said. "It's not going anywhere. We have the opportunity to build additional power plants and more from a manufacturing standpoint."

Lloyd said the industry needs a mix of energy.

"You can't rely on just one fuel," he said. "You can't just have nuclear, you can't just have gas, you can't just have solar. The sun doesn't shine all the time, the wind doesn't blow all the time."

Keller: Natural gas industry is 'outstanding'

Keller noted the natural gas industry impact fee has helped the Commonwealth.

"We didn't have to raise anybody's taxes, more people are working, there is a resource there where people are going to work every day and paying the taxes that were already there so we didn't have to ask anybody to dig deeper for more revenue," Keller said.

Keller said the budget deficit for Pennsylvania previously was between $3 billion and $4 billion, but this year there was an $800 million surplus in state revenue.

"When you look at what energy has meant to Pennsylvania, it's outstanding," he said.

America needs to work toward energy independence so it doesn't need to rely on countries that don't share America's interest, he said.

The speakers also emphasized the need to provide education for potential employees whether through trade schools or mobile classrooms.