As the closure of Oyster Creek Generating Station inches closer, Lacey and state officials continue to work on the concept of constructing a new facility locally and will be seeking public input on Wednesday, April 24 at the Lacey Middle School.
Officials from the townships of Lacey, Ocean and Barnegat recently met with the state Department of Planning Advocacy to discuss the next phase of locating a new generating facility in Lacey Township come 2019, when the operation of Oyster Creek will cease.
“As far as moving forward, it’s important,” Mayor David Most said. “This is a long process and I’m looking forward to the state and the different organizations coming together looking for input from all our residents.”
The state is looking to have public meetings in each of the three towns, Township Administrator and Municipal Clerk Veronica Laureigh said. The meeting will update each community on the status of the project and there will be informational round tables.
The public meeting will include two sessions for residents — from 4 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
“I think that will be very productive,” Most said. “2019 is coming up soon with the closure of Oyster Creek and I think it’s imperative that we plan for that.”
The closure of Oyster Creek, America’s oldest operating nuclear power plant, was announced in December 2010 after reaching an agreement with the state. The plant will shut down in 2019, ten years before its federal operating license expires.
The state’s Energy Master Plan discusses the importance of replacing the nuclear plant’s capacity upon its closure. It cites Lacey Township as a good place to locate a new plant because of the presence of a “highly skilled workforce,” community support and the existing electrical transmission infrastructure.
“I believe the state understands the significance and the impact it’s going to have on not only Lacey Township, this community, but our surrounding communities as well,” Most said. “It’s something that we’re addressing and we’re moving onward. It’s a long process and as long as we’re in the fight, I can assure you we’re going to fight for the town.”
The retirement of Oyster Creek will present the state with a challenge and its location prevents “significant transmission bottlenecks and overloads,” the state Energy Master Plan says.
When a power plant closes, there is usually an increase in wholesale energy and capacity prices, the plan states. Also, at least $100 million in transmission upgrades will be required in order to transfer energy to the region, Greg Reinert, spokesman for the Board of Public Utilities, previously said.
Oyster Creek is also a major source for jobs, employing nearly 700 workers and providing more than $70 million in wages, property taxes and purchases of goods and services from New Jersey businesses.
Most has been advocating replacing Oyster Creek’s generation with a new facility in Lacey since December 2010.
Birdsall Services Group conducted a feasibility study for Lacey Township for $22,500. The study provides an assessment of existing conditions, development constraints and permitting requirements at 798 South Main St., which is currently owned by JCP&L and located behind Oyster Creek.
A public information session held by Congressman Jon Runyan (R-3) in Lacey in September, pointed that a new facility to replace Oyster Creek would adequately make up for lost taxes and power generation but fall far short of providing the jobs currently offered at the power plant.
A natural gas facility was presented as the “only answer.”