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A Dallas-based private equity firm announced Monday plans to build an 859-megawatt natural gas-fired electric power plant in Brandywine beginning as early as late 2014.

At maximum capacity, the plant could power about 859,000 homes, or 1,000 homes for every megawatt of power, according to a news release from Panda Power Funds.

Panda said that the plant — which will be situated south of Brandywine Road between Air Force Road and the nearby CSX rail line, just on the P.G. side of the Prince George's-Charles county line — will add $1.2 billion to the regional economy during construction and its first decade of operation, the release states.

The firm plans to begin construction in late 2014 or “very early” 2015, spokesman Bill Pentak said.

Pentak declined to release cost estimates for the project, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that such plants cost about $1 million per megawatt.

A planned 661-megawatt natural gas plant in Waldorf near the Charles County landfill on Billingsley Road is projected to cost more than $500 million.

The Brandywine project is expected to support 700 to 800 union jobs during 30 months of construction and 57 permanent jobs either running or supporting the plant thereafter, according to the release.

“We've been looking in that area for a long time,” said John Boswell, a senior director with Panda in charge of the Brandywine project.

He noted that the firm initially proposed the project in response to a December 2011 request for proposals issued by the Maryland Public Service Commission, which had determined that the state needed an additional 650 to 700 megawatts of energy generation by 2015.

The commission ultimately selected the Waldorf plant, which was bid by Silver Spring-based Competitive Power Ventures, but “we do think this is a strong market, and stuck with the project,” Boswell added.

“The state-of-the-art Panda Mattawoman plant will utilize the latest, most advanced emissions-control technology, making it one of the cleanest, most efficient natural-gas fueled power plants in the nation,” the release states.

Plans are for the “zero-liquid-discharge” plant to cool itself with recycled municipal waste water from the Piscataway Wastewater Treatment Plant in Accokeek. The firm is currently in discussions with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which operates the Accokeek facility, Boswell said.

Boswell said that the plant will divert up to 5 million gallons of water daily from the treatment facility, which discharges into Piscataway Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River. All of the water diverted to the plant will either evaporate in the cooling process or go through an on-site crystallizer, which will remove all water from the remaining effluent, he added.

“We think this plant will go a long way to improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” Boswell said.

“Maryland state officials are clearly looking toward the needs of tomorrow, and we look forward to working with them to enhance the future reliability of the region's power supply,” firm president and senior partner Todd W. Carter said in the release. “We also look forward to continuing our relationship with the local community and helping ensure that the Mattawoman generating station is a positive for everyone concerned.”

“We're very excited about this project,” Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation president and CEO Gwen S. McCall said in the release. “This power plant will have a significant impact on our region's economy for years to come. It will expand the tax base, enlarge payrolls and drive revenues for contractors, suppliers, engineering firms, hotels, restaurants, retailers and a host of other businesses. The plant will create an estimated 700-800 union construction jobs, 25 direct jobs to run the facility and 32 indirect jobs to support it. This is great for Southern Maryland.”

In an effort to preserve local home values, the firm said that the plant will be located in an existing heavy-industrial zone; set back roughly 565 yards from its nearest road; shielded from view by trees, berms and other landscaping; and built 26 feet shorter than a nearby weather radar installation, “one of the lowest profiles of any power plant in the United States.”

Greater Prince George's Business Roundtable president and CEO M.H. Jim Estepp credited the firm with reaching out to the community while developing its site plans.

“They've done an especially good job of listening to the people of Prince George's and Charles Counties and incorporating what they've learned into the design of their plant,” Estepp said in the release.

jnewman@somdnews.com