River Hill Project gets Big Boost

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Clearfield County, today said the massive $550 million electric plant proposed in northeastern Clearfield County has won state backing of tax-exempt bonds of up to $600 million.

“The bond-allocation approval means Pennsylvania means business and is investing in the waste-coal-fire generating plant that will provide power and jobs for years to come,” George said. “Site preparations are almost complete, and the state’s financial support for the River Hill Power Company plant clears the way for the needed private financing.”

Stephen Poje, vice president of River Hill Power, said an official groundbreaking will be scheduled once the project financing is completed, possibly by the end of the year.

Once the financing is in place, construction of the 290-megawatt plant in Karthaus Township is expected to take roughly four years.

Construction permits were issued in July 2005.

Poje said one of two access roads is completed and paved. Earthmoving and bridge work is proceeding on the second road. He noted that private equity has paid for all the work to date.

George said the state Economic Development Financing Authority notified him of the bond approval. The authority approved a $300 million bond issue for the project in November 2005.

“When construction does commence, it will culminate six years of hard work advancing this project,” said George, majority chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. “However, the rewards are moving ever closer.”

The plant would produce electricity for the mid-Atlantic power grid, while ridding the region of a 30-year supply of waste coal that is now affecting water resources in the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. The project also could connect to the New York state power grid.

Benefits of the cogeneration plant include:

* Elimination and beneficial use of up to 2 million tons a year of waste coal.
* Creation of up to 1,000 construction jobs.
* Creation of 300 permanent mining and transportation jobs.
* Creation of 60 permanent power plant jobs and many more spin-off jobs.
* Generation of more than 2 million megawatt hours of electricity.
* Generation of high-quality steam, which would spur more investments in the region.

River Hill Power Co. LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sithe Global Power Company, LLC, a New York -based independent power-project development firm. Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, is the bond counsel.

The plant would use state-of-the-art technology to use the region’s deposits of high-sulfur waste coal to create low-cost electricity while reducing emissions by as much as 95 percent compared to an older coal-fired plant. Plans call for using powdered limestone to capture sulfur dioxide that otherwise would be emitted. The alkaline-rich ash would be used to remediate the waste-coal sites.

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