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Proposed natural gas power plant in Washington County asks state to withdraw permits

Nuclear Power Pennsylvania
Ted Shaffrey
/
AP
One of the cooling towers of Exelon Corporation's Limerick Generating Station nuclear power plant is seen in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, November 26, 2020.

A company that proposed natural gas-fired power plant in southwest Pennsylvania is canceling the project’s state permit. The announcement was a victory for environmental groups who opposed the plant.

The so-called “Beech Hollow” project would have produced 1,000 MW of electricity.

Robinson Power, LLC, the Burgettstown, Pa.-based company behind the project, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The DEP granted an air permit for the plant to the company in 2017. This year, the company modified its design and was granted a modified permit by DEP.

But environmental groups opposed the project, charging that the plant’s emissions would have hurt air quality in the region.

In June, the Clean Air Council appealed the new permit, citing a number of alleged deficiencies. Then in August, the company reversed course, and asked the DEP to forget the new design and go back to the old one. The DEP agreed and reinstated the old permit.

The Clean Air Council appealed that decision, arguing that once DEP modified the permit, the old conditions were no longer legally valid and that the company would have to seek a new permit. On Sept. 28, it sent a formal request to DEP to cancel the permit, pointing out that the company had already pulled its request to distribute electricity on the grid to federal regulators in the spring.

Before the case could be decided, the company pulled the plug on the permits. On Sept. 29, the DEP wrote to the company that it was terminating the permits, per the company’s request.

In a statement, Lisa Hallowell, senior attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, which represented the Clean Air Council, said: “We are thrilled to have stopped the construction of a dirty power plant in Robinson Township, where residents are already overburdened by air pollution from a plethora of oil and gas facilities.”

This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among WESA, The Allegheny Front, WITF and WHYY.

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Reid R. Frazier covers energy for The Allegheny Front. His work has taken him as far away as Texas and Louisiana to report on the petrochemical industry and as close to home as Greene County, Pennsylvania to cover the shale gas boom. His award-winning work has also aired on NPR, Marketplace and other outlets. Reid is currently contributing to StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WESA, WITF and WHYY covering the Commonwealth's energy economy. Email: reid@alleghenyfront.org
To make informed decisions, the public must receive unbiased truth.

As Southwestern Pennsylvania’s only independent public radio news and information station, we give voice to provocative ideas that foster a vibrant, informed, diverse and caring community.

WESA is primarily funded by listener contributions. Your financial support comes with no strings attached. It is free from commercial or political influence…that’s what makes WESA a free vital community resource. Your support funds important local journalism by WESA and NPR national reporters.

You give what you can, and you get news you can trust.
Please give now to continue providing fact-based journalism — a monthly gift of just $5 or $10 makes a big difference.