Oct. 25–READING, Pa. — The Reading Area Water Authority cleared another hurdle Wednesday, when the state Department of Environmental Protection issued it a permit to begin pumping water to a natural gas-fired power plant nearing completion in Birdsboro.
DEP issued a partial permit for RAWA to begin pumping 900 gallons per minute of water to the plant site for use in testing and to begin supplying potable water to offices and other facilities on the site. The plan is for RAWA eventually to provide water at a rate of 2,500 gallons per minute.
The $500 million power plant will use the water to generate steam to spin turbines that generate electricity at the plant owned by Birdsboro Power LLC, a subsidiary of EmberClear Corp. of Canada. The plant, being built on 30 acres of the former Armorcast plant site on Armorcast Road in the borough, is expected to go online in the spring.
RAWA had a 16-inch water main that carried water along Route 724 toward Birdsboro. The power company approached RAWA in 2015 about supplying water to the proposed power plant.
After holding public hearings and crossing other regulatory hurdles, DEP issued a construction permit for the pipeline project on Feb. 28. PennDOT requires a copy of the permit before it will OK the start of construction along state roads like Routes 724 and 10 (Morgantown Road).
Kim Mazur, RAWA’s director of operations and maintenance, said he was at the plant site Wednesday morning making last-minute checks on water lines, valves and gauges to make sure they were ready to begin taking the water pressure.
“We walked the site this morning,” said Mazur, who said plans are to have the plant fully supplied with water by the end of the year or early in 2019.
Mazur said the pipeline along Route 724 actually delivers water to the plant.
A second main being installed beneath Route 10 through the 18th Ward will supply two water tanks.
The tanks will provide additional water pressure to continue serving residential and business customers in addition to the power plant.
The elaborate water works project involved replacing or cleaning and relining water mains across the Buttonwood and Penn Street bridges. That pipe work had to be coordinated with the reconstruction of the two spans over the Schuylkill River.
The pipeline project is expected to cost about $8.5 million, which will be paid for by the power company. The pipeline will then become RAWA’s property and can be used eventually to serve other potential customers along the line.
RAWA Executive Director Bill Murray said the power plant project will bring in $3.5 million to $5 million in annual revenues, depending on water usage at the plant. Those revenues will be split into four parts, with 25 percent going to the city, 25 percent to RAWA debt service, 25 percent to RAWA plant maintenance and upgrades, and the final quarter to RAWA operations.
A separate natural gas pipeline also is needed to fuel the operation. The gas pipeline will connect to the Texas Eastern transmission line 14 miles away in Oley.
Contact Dan Kelly: 610-371-5040 or email@example.com.
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