BY JULIE BENAMATIMarcellus Business Central Editor
SHAWVILLE, PA – NRG Energy Inc., based in Houston, Texas and Princeton, NJ, recently announced plans to convert the currently coal-fired Shawville Power Plant to a natural gas operation.
According to David Gaier, spokesman for NRG, the plant will shutter its doors as planned in April 2015 – but will re-open one year later after the facility undergoes a conversion to natural gas.
It was announced in 2012 that the Shawville Power Plant, formerly owned by GenOn Energy, that the plant would be deactivated and about 80 employees would lose their jobs. It was one of eight plants, including four others in Pennsylvania, that were slated for shutdown.
NRG Energy completed the merger with GenOn Energy in December 2012, creating the largest competitive power generator in the nation. The Shawville plant alone has been providing about 600 megawatts of power annually to the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland grid for more than 55 years.
Gaier said company officials considered economic and environmental factors before making the decision in mid-May to convert the Shawville plant to natural gas.
“We found the coal units could be converted to operate on natural gas,” Gaier said. “This will improve the plant’s emissions profile and comply with environmental regulations.”
All four coal units will be converted to natural gas and a gas pipeline will be drilled to transport the gas to the plant.
When the plant closes, about 80 employees will be jobless. However, Gaier said he anticipates about 40 employees being needed when the plant reopens in April 2016. He did not say if the furloughed employees will be given first opportunity to return to the plant.
But in good news, Gaier said about 100 to 150 jobs will be created to perform the conversion, which is expected last about one year before the plan reopens.
“I can’t predict where the workers will come from in any particular project, but it’s been our experience that many jobs often come from the local and regional areas,” Gaier said. “The main driver of the jobs is the availability of skilled labor in the trades that are needed. There will be about 100-150 jobs during the approximate one-year construction period.”