Share This Page

Energy firm names liaison

A Nebraska-based energy firm that plans to build a natural-gas-fueled electricity generating plant in South Huntingdon next year has hired a retired natural gas industry veteran and former chairman of the region's workforce development agency as its community relations representative.

Richard L. Mahla of Hempfield, who was the Westmoreland-Fayette Private Industry Council chairman for 2000 to 2001, will serve as Tenaska Inc.'s liaison for the power plant it intends to build, Tenaska announced Thursday.

"Tenaska is committed to open, two-way communications with the businesses and residents of Westmoreland County," said Michael Roth, its development director. Roth, who is based in Tenaska headquarters in Omaha, said he has traveled to the region every few weeks, but Mahla will be based here.

Mahla worked for Dominion Peoples Gas in Pittsburgh for 31 years, retiring in 2010 as a large-volume key account manager.

"Tenaska understands that having a presence in the community is essential to building a good relationship with area residents," Mahla said.

The plant's cost has been estimated at $1 billion, but Tenaska has stated only that it will be more than $500 million.

"The costs have not been nailed down," Roth said.

The company has purchased 400 acres along the Smithton Pike, which runs parallel to the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70, between the Smithton and West Newton exists.

Construction is scheduled to begin sometime in 2013, but Tenaska has yet to determine a specific date, Roth said. It will take between 26 and 30 months, with about 300 construction jobs created and about 30 permanent positions, Roth said.

The plant will generate electricity with a natural gas combustion turbine in which the gas is blown through the blades of a turbine that turns a generator to produce electricity. The hot exhaust from that process also is used to make electricity by heating water in boiler to turn a steam turbine.

"It's an extremely efficient plant," Roth said.

Tenaska is starting the process of obtaining its required air-quality permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection, Roth said.

Tenaska has an agreement with the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County to supply the plant with water. Tenaska agreed to pay $85,000 a year to reserve up to 8.5 million gallons of water a day, but the plant likely will use about 5 million gallons of water a day, Roth said. The water will be recycled and the small amount that will be discharged will be at an ambient temperature when it flows into the Youghiogheny River, he said..

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.