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Philly’s largest solar installation planned as part of new LNG plant in Passyunk

The solar field will serve as an additional power source to assist in running the plant, lessening the burden on the grid.

The PGW Passyunk Plant, at Passyunk Avenue and Dover Street.
The PGW Passyunk Plant, at Passyunk Avenue and Dover Street.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

Liberty Energy Trust, which has partnered with Philadelphia Gas Works to build a natural gas facility in South Philadelphia, also will build a solar field at the PGW Passyunk site, company executives said.

The field will be the largest solar installation in the city and will serve as an additional power source to assist in running the plant, lessening the burden of only utilizing the grid, Liberty Energy said in its request for proposals.

About 7 megawatts of power is required to run the plant, and Liberty Energy plans to install 3 MW of solar on about 12 acres.

This solar production will generate enough electricity to operate all the equipment with the Passyunk Energy Center, as well as other PGW electricity needs for the Passyunk site, according to the proposal.

PGW’s planned liquefied natural gas plant got a $2 million state grant to install solar energy earlier this year and will be constructed at the utility’s Southwest Philadelphia site.

The $60 million Passyunk Energy Center is a partnership between the city-owned gas utility and Liberty Energy, based in Conshohocken.

PGW will approve design plans and run the facility, while Liberty will finance the construction.

City Councilman Derek Green, who chairs the Gas Commission, helped push the new plant forward. “We’re really trying to move it forward in a creative and progressive and businesslike way,” he said.

”This proposed solar project would be another win for PGW and ratepayers by providing another way to save money,” Green said.

The private company will market the liquefied gas and split revenue evenly with PGW.

PGW has said it could earn up to $1.35 million a year in fees and profits to help keep customer rates stable.

Liberty Energy, headed by Charles Ryan and Boris Brevnov, was an unsuccessful bidder to develop the Port of Philadelphia’s Southport project in 2016 and bid unsuccessfully to build and operate the Port of Wilmington. It also proposed building a $100 million LNG plant in Massachusetts.

Brevnov said the new plant will create much-needed jobs in energy.

“The state really needs innovation in energy jobs. Upstream is still important, so we shouldn’t forget it, as well as jobs in clean energy, consumer devices, energy efficiency, renewables, and solutions in the downstream,” he said.

Environmental groups, including the Clean Air Council and PennEnvironment, have been against the gas plant being built in an industrial site that contains an underused LNG storage tank.