Fighting for the Future

Opposing New Fossil Fuel Power Plants

Martha Klein

Although we’re staying far apart from each other and working online to ensure everyone’s health and safety, our Chapter continues to advocate for a future with a livable planet. That means opposing the unneeded fracked gas plant proposed by NTE to be built in Killingly. We have remained active with our allies, despite not meeting in person, holding virtual rallies and car caravans to protest the approvals from DEEP for this harmful new power plant. 

 

Despite Governor Lamont’s commitment to transitioning Connecticut to a carbon-free electric grid by 2040, the state is moving forward with approvals on an over 800 megawatt (MW) fracked gas fueled power plant to be built in Killingly. The project called the Killingly Energy Center (KEC) will take gas from a new spur of the Enbridge pipeline. Recently, this pipeline was massively expanded across four states and carries larger amounts of fracked gas, entering the system in Western New York and coming from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania. Gas is cheap right now because of fracking and because there is a large excess on the market. But gas is also methane which is a terrible greenhouse gas and air pollutant - the use of gas is as bad for the climate as coal. 

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The new KEC gas plant will emit tons of carbon dioxide annually thereby accelerating climate change, may contaminate the waters of the Quinebaug River during construction, will add oil and heavy metals to the town’s water purification system, and may create only a dozen permanent jobs. The residents of eastern Connecticut will pay the price for NTE’s profits with their health, as emissions from power plants are associated with increased rates of numerous diseases, notably respiratory ailments and cancers.

 

The question is why this plant has been approved when the state doesn’t need the power. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, Connecticut has been a net energy exporter for over ten years. This means that new plants export power across long distances which is very inefficient, to Boston, New York City or elsewhere. Our state still has an operating coal plant and a nuclear plant, in addition to oil plants, so the addition of gas powered plants in Oxford and Bridgeport, and now potentially in Killingly, is adding carbon and other pollutants to the air, ruining our air quality, while our electricity prices remain high. 

 

Independent Systems Operators of New England (ISO-NE), similarly to its parent agency in Washington, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has an overt preference for fossil fuel over renewable power, and that explains how the plant was issued a certificate of necessity. NTE put in a bid with ISO-NE for two years which was rejected due to lack of need. In the third year of bidding, ISO-NE accepted NTE’s bid, but at that time, ISO did not account for new power that would be coming to the region from off-shore wind projects, and thus their prediction of future power needs was greatly overestimated. 

 

The reality is that DEEP supported this fracked gas power plant even before a determination of need was made, first by ISO-NE and then by the Connecticut Siting Council (CSC). DEEP issued permits for the project in the first year of bids although the project was not issued a certificate of “necessity” until the third year of bidding. DEEP continues to support this new power plant, issuing permits for air and water pollution during a pandemic while the CSC decision is being challenged in the State Supreme Court. This eagerness on DEEP’s part to expedite the application process of the new gas plant is consistent with Connecticut’s practice of expanding the use of fracked gas both for electricity production as well as for residential, municipal, and business buildings. 

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For years, concerned residents, environmental organizations and think tanks have opposed Connecticut’s policy of encouraging gas infrastructure development, such as new power plants, enlarged pipelines and compressor stations, and using as much gas as possible, whether via pipelines from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania or landfill methane captured from our overflowing garbage facilities. This policy is deeply misguided, is informed by old, debunked science, makes the state’s own emission reduction targets impossible, and puts the lie to Governor Lamont’s order for a 100% carbon-free electric grid to occur in 2040, years after this governor will be out of office. This fracked gas expansion policy is disastrous for the economy, climate, air, water, and public health.

 

In order to de-carbonize our electric grid, we can’t continue building new fracked gas infrastructure. The taxpayers of Connecticut will be responsible for millions of dollars in stranded assets from the new fracked gas power plants, including the two other brand new plants in Bridgeport and Oxford. In light of the climate crisis in which we find ourselves, the need to burn less fossil fuels, and the large procurements made recently by the state for renewable off-shore wind, it is just plain wrong to approve this power plant.

 

Please help us fight for a livable future, and join the campaign to oppose fracked gas expansion. 

 

Contact Martha Klein, Lead Volunteer of the Beyond Gas campaign.