Essential Utilities sells Pittsburgh Airport Microgrid, other Regional DERs to Cordia for $165M

Oct. 6, 2023
The projects in Pittsburgh Allegheny County include microgrid and district energy systems originally developed by Peoples Gas.

Pittsburgh-based Essential Utilities is selling three local microgrid and distributed energy projects to energy firm Cordia for $165 million.

The projects in Pittsburgh Allegheny County include microgrid and district energy systems originally developed by Peoples Gas. The microgrid is at Pittsburgh International Airport and was a highly publicized development during its construction and commissioning over the past few years.

The PIA microgrid is centered on a 21.25-MW gas-fired generation plant powering airport operations. The system is grid-tied into the PJM Interconnection.

One of the district energy systems acquired by Cordia is at Alleghenry Health Network’s Wexford Hospital. The system, including a 2-MW gas-fired generator and emergency backup, powers the 160-bed facility.

The other district energy project provides steam and hot water services for six Allegheny County government buildings, including the county courthouse and city-count building.

Cordia already owns and operates several microgrid and DER projects in the Pennsylvania region.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to acquire the cutting-edge microgrid and district energy systems,” Cordia CEO Earl Collins said in a statement. “Our decades of experience owning, managing and operating energy systems will allow our new customers to focus on their core businesses.”

All three are unregulated assets seen as important examples of mission critical microgrid and DER sites. The airport microgrid was completed well in advance of the new microgrid project recently announced for the JFK Airport Terminal One under construction.

 Essential Utilities is selling unregulated market assets to focus on its regulated territories. Other larger utilities such as Duke Energy and American Electric Power have enacted similar divestments recently, seeing the investment for distributed energy resources as too risky and uncertain in unregulated markets.

“Selling these unregulated assets to a skilled and experienced operator in Cordia allows us to focus more fully on our core business as a regulated utility, while continuing to support projects that create a more resilient, sustainable energy grid,” Essential Utilities CEO Chris Franklin said.

The Pittsburgh airport microgrid is comprised of a series of Jenbacher natural gas gen-sets which powered the main campus, and separate solar arrays utilized for other meters at the airport. The region sits atop the massive Marcellus Shale natural gas play, one of the most productive energy fields in the U.S.

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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