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Coal-fired plant imploded in New Jersey for battery array

LOGAN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A former coal-fired power plant in New Jersey was imploded Friday, and its owners announced plans for a new $1 billion venture on the site, where batteries will be deployed to store power from clean energy sources including wind and solar.

The move came as New Jersey moves aggressively to adopt clean energy, including its push to be the East Coast leader in offshore wind energy.

Starwood Energy demolished the former Logan Generating Plant, with the head of New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities pushing a ceremonial button; the actual explosives used in bringing the structure down were triggered by a licensed demolition contractor.

Logan is one of two former coal-fired power plants that the company decided in March to shutter and tear down under an agreement with the state and a local utility. The other is the former Chambers Cogeneration Plant in Carneys Point, which has yet to be dismantled.

They were the last two coal-fired power plants operating in the state until they closed three months ago, and both will host battery storage projects, said Himanshu Saxena, CEO of Starwood, a Greenwich, Connecticut, private equity investment firm specializing in energy infrastructure projects.

“This is the end of coal in this state,” Saxena said.

The closures are part of the latest wave of coal-burning units to be retired as states try to fight climate change by requiring more carbon-free sources of electricity.

“Wind doesn’t always blow; solar doesn’t always shine,” he said. “We need systems where you can store the energy. You have to build battery storage products.”

The plant, on the banks of the Delaware River in the Philadelphia suburbs of southern New Jersey, began operating in 1994.

Shortly before 11 a.m. Friday, an emergency siren sounded, indicating the imminent detonation of explosives placed strategically at the base of the plant’s smokestack and in a larger nearby building.

A series of loud blasts rang out, and concussive waves of pressure radiated from the site as the structures began to crumble into a heap of smoke and dust.

Saxena said he has a long history with power generation and environmental concerns.

“I worked at a coal plant in India; there were no scrubbers,” he said, referring to emissions-control equipment. “You went in with a white shirt and came out with a black shirt.”

Environmental and public interest groups including the Sierra Club pushed Atlantic City Electric to end an agreement that locked rate-payers into what the Sierra Club termed above-market electricity rates, and to end the operation of the two plants.

“More utilities need to recognize the changing landscape and that they have a responsibility to reduce carbon pollution,” said Ramon Cruz, national president of the Sierra Club, adding he hopes the deal will be a model for other states and companies.

Atlantic City Electric estimates that termination of the agreement will save ratepayers $30 million through 2024.


Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC


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