State to consider proposed Killingly natural gas plant

February 18, 2019

Killingly — The Connecticut Siting Council recently reopened the door for NTE Energy’s proposed natural gas plant, which has been planned since 2016 and could deliver a 650-megawatt boost to the New England electricity grid by 2022.

The Siting Council last week unanimously decided to let NTE seek a required certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for construction, maintenance and operation of the Killingly Energy Center, planned for 180 and 189 Lake Road. The Siting Council had previously denied NTE’s initial application for a siting certificate, a must-have before construction begins, based on NTE’s failure to demonstrate a public need for the plant.

The state’s decision to reopen a path for the plant follows ISO New England’s forward capacity auction earlier this month, which guaranteed electricity from New England power generators for 2022-23 and included Killingly Energy Center among the 34,000-plus megawatts required to meet regional electricity demands. NTE had twice failed to secure contracts for the plant in previous ISO New England auctions.

On Monday, NTE Director of Communications Jennifer Logue said the company looked forward “to working with the Connecticut Siting Council to bring this much-needed source of cleaner, highly efficient electric power generation to Connecticut and Southern New England.”

In a statement last week, NTE CEO Seth Shortlidge said securing a contract in this year’s auction “clearly supports the region’s need” for the new natural gas plant, especially “at a time when up to 6,000 megawatts of older, less-efficient power plants across the region are nearing retirement.”

Logue said the next steps include a field review, public hearing and initial evidentiary hearing set for April 4 in Killingly Town Hall.

The plant has faced opposition among environmental and conservation groups, who unsuccessfully pushed the Siting Council last week to hold off on the plant’s application process until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalizes ISO New England’s auction results.

The groups, including Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Sierra Club, Wyndham Land Trust and the citizens group Not Another Power Plant, argue Connecticut and other New England states are moving away from fossil fuel generation and toward renewables such as offshore wind.

They also noted the Killingly Energy Center would be the second power plant on Lake Road in Killingly. The proposed site is adjacent to the 32-acre Dunn Preserve owned and maintained by the Wyndham Land Trust.

In a joint release, the groups applauded the Siting Council for establishing a “full evidentiary process in order to properly consider the need for the facility and its environmental impacts.”

“The way forward isn’t building more fossil fuel plants in communities already struggling with asthma and air pollution and increasing our over-reliance on fossil fuels,” said Katherine Fiedler, legal fellow for CFE. “Instead, it’s finding ways to grow solar, wind, and efficiency projects that also improve grid resiliency and generate local job growth.”

In addition to the public hearing in April, the Siting Council will accept public comments at www.siting.council@ct.gov until May 4. The Siting Council will make a final decision on NTE’s application for a siting certificate by Aug. 13.

NTE expects the 100 million over 20 years. As part of a community environmental benefit agreement approved by the Town Council, NTE says it will provide $5 million for scholarships and town projects.