Panda Power Funds announced that it has completed the acquisition and successful financing of Moxie Energy’s planned 829-MW natural gas-fueled, combined-cycle Liberty generating station, located in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. When completed, the Liberty project will be the first new power plant in the Commonwealth specifically developed to take advantage of its proximity to the Marcellus Shale gas formation. Panda will immediately start construction on the 33-acre site and expects commercial operations to begin by early 2016.
Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and Ares Capital arranged the senior debt financing for the plant. Union Bank was the documentation agent. The transaction marks the fourth financing of a large-scale power facility by Panda Power Funds in 13 months and the first investment of Panda Fund II. The fund is supplying equity for the Liberty project along with a large institutional co-investor.
“Following three successful financings in Texas, it didn’t get any easier,” said Todd W. Carter, president and senior partner of Panda Power Funds. “I’m really proud of our team for getting this job done in a ‘tough-as-nails’ financial market.
“I’m also very pleased we landed the Liberty project. After looking at a number of opportunities in PJM, we were impressed with the project and the caliber of work done by Moxie Energy.”
“We found a good dance partner in Panda,” added Aaron Samson, chief executive officer of Moxie Energy. “They care about the quality of the project and its environmental friendliness, and are committed to being a good corporate citizen of the community.”
The Panda Liberty project has been strategically sited in the PJM Interconnection, which is considered one of the most attractive and liquid markets for power generators in the United States. Equally important, approximately 20,000 megawatts of coal-fired power capacity retirements have been announced in PJM, setting the stage for tightening reserve margins. Declining economics and increasing environmental costs are expected to drive additional coal-fired retirements.
The Liberty plant will utilize Siemens H-class gas turbines — the world’s first generation technology to achieve operating efficiencies of 60 percent. The two single shaft power trains will make the Liberty plant one of the cleanest, most efficient natural gas-fueled power plants in the United States. In addition, unlike approximately 95 percent of the nation’s generating facilities, the plant will be cooled with air rather than water. As a result, the Liberty plant will not draw water from, or discharge water into, the Susquehanna River — eliminating potential impacts to species in the Susquehanna watershed. Special blade designs, low-output motors and building enclosures will also be used to minimize sound.
According to recent estimates, the plant will contribute an estimated $1.2 billion to the area’s economy during construction and the facility’s first 10 years of operation. Approximately 500 jobs will be created to construct the Liberty power plant at peak construction. During operations, the generating station will create an estimated 27 skilled jobs to operate the facility and 45 indirect jobs within the community to support the plant.
Gemma-Lane Liberty Partners will serve as the project EPC Contractor and Siemens Energy Inc. will provide the power island package including the natural gas turbines, steam turbine and waste heat recovery boilers. Gemma-Lane Liberty Partners will be responsible for installing the power island equipment and for the engineering, procurement and installation of the balance of the plant, and the commissioning of the facility. Construction will take approximately 30 months.
The generating station will be located in Asylum Township in Bradford County, approximately 45 miles northwest of Scranton, Pennsylvania. When completed, the generating station will be able to supply the power needs of up to 1 million homes in Pennsylvania.