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Tenaska to pay for more upgrades to Westmoreland water system

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, 6:12 p.m.
Construction crews and surveyors work on building the Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station, near Smithton in South Huntingdon Township, on Wednesday, Feb.22, 2017. The natural-gas fired power plant is expected to open by December 2018 and will supply power for up to 925,000 homes.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Construction crews and surveyors work on building the Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station, near Smithton in South Huntingdon Township, on Wednesday, Feb.22, 2017. The natural-gas fired power plant is expected to open by December 2018 and will supply power for up to 925,000 homes.

A $2.85 million upgrade to a Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County water treatment plant was approved Wednesday to allow the facility to increase production for a power plant under construction in South Huntingdon.

Authority board members awarded three separate construction projects for equipment to process residual waste at the Indian Creek plant on the Youghiogheny River in Connellsville.

The project is part of a series of upgrades to the plant made necessary by the $780 million construction of the Tenaska Westmoreland natural gas-fueled plant slated to open next year.

Tenaska is paying for the authority's upgrades, which to date have totaled more than $22 million, officials said.

Those upgrades include installation of about 13 miles of pipe that will link the Tenaska plant to the authority's new pumping station in Bullskin, Fayette County.

“This will be beneficial to the people along that line. People who live in that area will be able to tap into our system for water, and it will improve fire protection,” said authority Business Manager Brian Hohman.

Authority officials said residents along the new stretch of water line will not be mandated to tap in to the system. Fire hydrants have been installed along the line.

Tenaska is expected to use about 8 to 10 million gallons of water a day at its plant.

The project approved Wednesday involves installation of a device that removes moisture from sludge left over after river water is treated, moved through the plant and sent to customers.

Authority Manager Michael Kukura said the process to dry out the waste and have it returned to the river previously took about two-and-a-half years to complete. Once the new equipment is installed, the process will take about nine months, he said.

The quicker turnaround time will enable the plant to treat and produce more water for customers.

“Supporting economic development is a necessity for our community. We are pleased to be partnering with Tenaska to not only deliver them water, but the upgrades it has financed could serve others in the community as well,” Kukura said.

Tenaska started construction this year of its 925-megawatt plant on 50 acres of farmland near Smithton.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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