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New England Gets Power Plant: Will It Get Gas?

delaware riverkeeper - Jim Willis reportsJim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)

 

A proposed New England natural gas power plant will bring numerous economic benefits as it produces affordable, clean energy for homes and businesses.

In April 2016, MDN told you NTE Energy, headquartered in St. Augustine, Florida, plans to build several new natural gas-fired electric generating plants, one of them in Connecticut. Since that time NTE has been busy with all of three projects.

The Connecticut project is called Killingly Energy Center, a 550-megawatt plant that will be located near Killingly, CT. NTE has secured a site for the plant, filed a request to connect to the power grid, filed for an air permit and filed with the siting council.

power plant

NTE expects to get all of the various permits they need sometime by the second quarter of this year (May-June time frame). When they do get the necessary permits for Killingly, construction will begin (in 2Q of this year).

No doubt Marcellus gas will feed the plant, which will go online in 2021 (it takes a few years to build these things). NTE will spend $500 million on the project and employ 250-350 people to build it. But what about the location? You know how allergic New Englanders are to any new natural gas-related infrastructure!

NTE is also building a plant in Ohio. The mayor of the city where the Ohio plant is getting built (Middletown, OH) is giving his “full-throated support” of NTE and is telling Killingly they don’t have anything to worry about. NTE does what they say they’ll do, and they do it right.

So far Killingly appears to be playing ball. Killingly Town Council approved agreements with NTE earlier this month. When the plant gets built, Killingly will see $90 million in tax revenue over the next 20 years. Who wouldn’t sign on the dotted line for 90 million bucks?!

Below is news about the project and here is a link to the Killingly Economic Development Commission presentation, from Jan. 9th about the Killingly Energy Center.

The mayor of an Ohio city is giving his full-throated support of a soon-to-be active power plant facility under construction in his city by the same developer hoping to build a similar plant in Killingly.

Middletown, Ohio, Mayor Larry Mulligan earlier this month sent a letter to The Bulletin expressing his support of Florida-based NTE Energy’s plan to build a 500-megawatt power plant at the intersection of Cincinnati-Dayton and Oxford State roads.

In his letter, Mulligan said he was initially skeptical about the plan.

“When I was first approached by NTE Energy about their proposal to build a large natural gas power plant in our city over five years ago, my initial response was to be cautious and reserved,” he wrote. “It sounded too good to be true.”

But Mulligan said the company kept its word to hire 350 construction workers and funnel “millions of dollars” in payroll and tax revenue into the city’s coffers.

“I’ve seen them hire their local operating staff, which will bring an annual payroll of over $2 million to our city,” he wrote. “I watched closely as NTE honored their word to hire locally – with more than 60 percent of their new hires coming from our area.”

NTE is proposing to build a 550-megawatt plant off Lake Road in the Dayville section of Killingly. The Connecticut Siting Council, which has the final say on whether such projects get approved in the state, last year rejected permit applications for the project, though company officials said they plan to resubmit.

The Killingly Town Council this month approved a pair of agreements with NTE that would net the town more than $90 million in tax revenue over 20 years if the plant gets built. Mulligan had no information on whether any similar agreements were hammered out in his city.

According to news reports from the Middletown, Ohio area, the $645 million project there, which is expected to be finished this year, faced no significant opposition from residents or grassroots groups – a marked contrast from how residents from Killingly and surrounding towns reacted to the possibility of a new power plant being built here.

For months last year, Killingly Town Council meetings included comments from dozens of individuals calling for the rejection of the project. Local and state lawmakers attended rallies opposing the plan and many spoke out during public hearings on the issue.

The only groups to actively stump for the Killingly project came from unions expecting to gain construction jobs.

As part of his work in exploring the possible effects of a new power plant in town, Killingly Town Manager Sean Hendricks spent several days in 2016 in Middletown, Ohio.

“It’s a bigger city than Killingly, though still rural, and the plant’s on the edge of an industrial park, with homes a little further out from the facility than are planned for Killingly,” he said.

Hendricks said from May 31 to June 2 he visited with city and NTE officials to get a sense of the scope of the project and its effect on the area.

“I also cold-called on several businesses to get their take on the project,” he said. “And the response I got was that NTE had lived up to the promises they made.”

Hendricks surmised the vehemently different reactions expressed by Killingly and Middletown residents about the prospect of a power plant can be partially attributed to economic history. He said a coke-processing plant that supplies materials to a steel plant had been built in Middletown a few years back.

“I think that kind of plant created more worry about any potential pollution than a potential power plant did,” Hendricks said. “But (NTE) did the same things in Middletown as they have in Killingly, working with rotary clubs and other groups to have a presence in town.”

Middletown is located in the southwestern part of Ohio on Interstate 75, a region city officials tout as one of the largest industrial, manufacturing and distribution areas in the country. The city is situated above one of the country’s largest aquifers, making it much easier to obtain water for power plant operations compared to the Killingly area.

Mulligan, in a phone interview, said the city once boasted thriving paper and tobacco industries, but has since seen its share of economic challenges.

“But we’re moving forward,” Mulligan said. “Our city’s motto is ‘Bright past, brighter future,’ and we’ve been named one of the top 10 cities in a state that has 450 towns, cities and other municipalities. It’s a tight-knit community.”

Mulligan said the big advantage of the project isn’t monetary.

“We’re on the further northern end of service from Duke Energy and it can be a challenge ensuring reliability and bringing energy price stability to our region,” he said.

Mulligan said the prospect of a new energy plant has already led to some economic development dividends.

“The new plant has already given us a competitive edge in attracting new businesses,” he said. “And the company has been out at schools and been a big supporter of our nonprofits. Rest assured, the people of Killingly can trust NTE.”

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