Once complete, the Panda Mattawoman natural gas-fueled generating station (pictured) will be able to supply the power needs of approximately 859,000 homes in the Greater Maryland / Washington DC metropolitan area. The facility is expected to contribute approximately $1.2 billion to the area’s economy during construction and the plant’s first 10 years of operation.
The developers say that the plant’s use of “advanced emissions-control technology,” will make it one of the cleanest, most efficient natural gas-fueled power plants in the nation.
The Mattawoman plant will also be a “zero-liquid-discharge” plant, returning no waste water to a treatment facility and subsequently preventing the discharge of harmful nutrients into the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, potable water will not be used in the operation of the plant. The generating station will instead use recycled municipal waste water for cooling purposes in order to help conserve the state’s natural supply of drinking water.
The plant will be located in an existing “I-2” heavy industrial zone, not a rural tier. To reduce sightlines, the facility has been designed with one of the lowest profiles of any power plant in the US. By comparison, the plant will be 26 feet lower than a nearby weather radar. The plant will have a setback of approximately 565 yards from the nearest road, will be heavily buffered by trees and further shielded from view with berms and landscaping, the developers say.
Construction of the Mattawoman project will take about 30 months and is dependent upon financing, regulatory approvals and other conditions.
The amount of electricity generated from natural gas is significantly down on last year’s figures, according to figures from the US Energy Information Administration released in April.
By late March, wholesale natural gas prices at the Henry Hub trading center were back to $4 per million British thermal units, a dollar or so higher than a year ago. In response, electricity generators used 16 percent less natural gas this March compared with March 2012. Coal recovered some market share as as result of the natural gas price rise.