August 22, 2013 / 1:33 PM / in 4 years

Panda Power Funds acquires Pennsylvania natgas-fired project

HOUSTON, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Panda Power Funds will begin construction immediately on an 829-MW natural gas-fired power plant in Pennsylvania after acquiring the project from Moxie Energy and completing financing, Panda said on Thursday.

The Panda Liberty generating station will be built on a 33-acre site in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Commercial operations are expected to begin by early 2016.

It is Panda’s second project in the PJM Interconnection, the largest U.S. power market. Earlier this week, Panda announced plans to build an 859-MW gas-fired plant in Maryland, subject to financing and other conditions.

When completed, the plants will increase generation in the PJM Interconnection, helping offset the scheduled retirement of as much as 20,000 megawatts of aging coal-fired generation due to stricter federal environmental controls and economics. The location will also take advantage of growing gas supplies from the Marcellus Shale gas formation.

The Liberty transaction marks the fourth financing of a large-scale power facility by Dallas-based Panda Power Funds in 13 months, officials said.

Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and Ares Capital arranged the senior debt financing for the Liberty plant. Union Bank was the documentation agent.

It is the first investment of Panda Fund II, which is supplying equity for the Liberty project along with a large institutional co-investor.

“After looking at a number of opportunities in PJM, we were impressed with the project and the caliber of work done by Moxie Energy,” said Todd W. Carter, Panda Power Funds president.

Gemma-Lane Liberty Partners will act as engineering and construction contractor and Siemens Energy Inc will provide Siemens H-class natural gas turbines, the steam turbine and waste heat recovery boilers, Panda said in a statement.

Construction will take about 30 months.

Panda is currently building two power plants in Texas with more than 2,200 megawatts of capacity. The plants are scheduled to come online in 2014 and 2015 to meet the state’s growing appetite for electricity.

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