At one time, the Delaware River supported a thriving manufacturing hub. Now, a group of Philadelphia-area business leaders want to bring that back through the use of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas. But turning Philadelphia into an East Coast “energy hub” may not be so easy.

On the surface, it looks simple: Pennsylvania has a lot of shale gas. But the gas is not selling at high prices right now, forcing producers to slow down. Phil Rinaldi is chair of the Philadelphia Energy Action Team and CEO of Philadelphia Energy Solutions, the largest refiner on the East Coast. He’s the visionary behind the city’s energy hub.

“The reserves in the Marcellus are enormous, and they’re trapped there because the market doesn’t exist to take those molecules away at a reasonable price,” he said.

Rinaldi wants to connect all those idle shale gas molecules with Philadelphia’s idle industrial waterfront property. Those sites are already linked to rail lines and, in some cases, pipelines.

“You really create a series of businesses that cascade into other businesses that cascade into other businesses,” he said. “So it’s a question of getting that momentum started.”

The cheap Marcellus gas could power heavy manufacturing. Or, it could become the raw ingredient in producing fertilizers or plastics. The region’s ports could start humming by shipping the manufactured products overseas.

Continue reading this story at StateImpact Pennsylvania »

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This story comes from our content partner StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration between WITF and WHYY covering the fiscal and environmental impact of Pennsylvania’s booming energy economy.