Keeping It Local

PA energy center utilizing 150 local union workers for construction

Construction is underway for a new power plant in northeast Pennsylvania that will utilize area workers and provide 150 jobs.

The Lackawanna Energy Center, now being built in Jessup, Penn., will be a 1,480-megawatt natural gas power plant once finished. It is currently employing about 200 workers, 150 of whom are area union tradesmen, according to a report by Jon O’Connell, staff writer for The Scranton Times-Tribune. The project is being managed by Chicago-based Invenergy LLC and using prime contractor Kiewet, which is based in Nebraska.

Kiewit had been teaming up with local subcontractors beginning in March, but recently started drawing workers from local union halls, following through on a pledge made at the project’s inception.

“They’re going to utilize our people to do most of that work,” Rick Schraeder, business manager of Scranton’s International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 81, told the Times-Tribune. Schraeder mentioned that certain equipment vendors require specific skill sets for machinery installation, which so some work is outsourced, but of the labor right now is sourced through local halls.

The region has about 15 building trade unions, everything from boilermakers, heavy and highway construction workers, to carpenters and pipefitters. Most of these trades are or will be represented on the Invenergy job site.

A digital rendering of the Lackawanna Energy Center.

A digital rendering of the Lackawanna Energy Center.

The combined cycle facility is in its earliest stages and is expected to take approximately two years. It will be equipped with mainly General Electric energy-efficient technology, aiming to use less fuel and generate fewer emissions. This includes three gas-powered turbines, three heat recovery steam generators, and a steam turbine.

Combined cycle facilities maximize usage of the heat from natural gas as fuel, increasing efficiency. The Lackawanna facility will be “compact and low impact, and far more advanced than earlier generations of natural gas plants,” according to the project website.

Overall, more than 800 skilled craft laborers are slated to work on the project. Once operable, Lackawanna is expected to have 30 permanent jobs and an annual payroll of $3.5-$4 million. Such jobs will include plant management positions, engineering jobs, maintenance technicians, operators, and administrative assistants. Invenergy claims that it prefers to hire locally, and train area employees for these roles.

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