Plans for Killingly Power Plant Press On, But Sierra Club Celebrates Small Victories

Alysis Morrissey

One of my most marked-up and dog-eared books is called “The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture” by Mary Pipher. Though it was written back in 2013 about our growing climate emergency, Pipher’s wisdom, perspective, and hope are more relevant and necessary than ever before. She writes, “When people come together, they can accomplish more than they can by individual actions. With this transformation from ‘me’ to ‘we,’ the wind picks up, the sails fill, and the boat is off.”

 

While plans to build an unnecessary power plant in Killingly press forward, so too, does Sierra Club Connecticut. Groups of demonstrators have been gathering together weekly to protest the 650-megawatt (MW) power plant that is scheduled to contribute 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. This summer, Sierra Club members have organized demonstrations throughout the state, but most widely covered in the news media was our August 7th protest at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) headquarters in Hartford—and it seems our chants were finally heard (sort of). 

Plans for Killingly Power Plant Press On

In interviews with Fox61 and The Hartford Courant, DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said the plan for running this fossil-fuel plant "is to ensure it runs as little as possible.” She added that they have a responsibility to maintain grid reliability but remain “laser focused on zero-carbon renewables as the long-term solution.”

 

Dykes’ eyebrow-raising response to reporters is a reminder that we must separate fact from fiction when it comes to fracking and “natural gas.” Here are two common myths: 

 

Myth: Fracked gas power is "cleaner than oil or coal"

The Truth: Methane burning produces less particulates than burning coal or oil, but produces much more climate-destroying emissions. These include methane leaks, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants. Methane, as we know, is accelerating global heating and is more potent than carbon dioxide. 

Myth: This power plant is needed. 

The Truth: Offshore wind turbines will be built, and that power will come to New England in a matter of years. The power plant at Killingly isn’t scheduled to be operational until 2022. Dykes and other DEEP officials misleadingly state that fracked gas is cleaner "compared to other fossil fuel power plants." But Killingly isn't in competition with any other fossil fuel power plants. This fracked gas power is competing with offshore wind, and puts us at risk of displacing renewable energy.

Following news coverage of the demonstration, Sierra Club Connecticut—along with 35 additional Connecticut-based organizations—submitted an official letter to Commissioner Katie Dykes and DEEP urging them to stop the construction and impose a moratorium on all new gas and oil infrastructure until they come up with a plan for energy development that is consistent with the state’s climate goals. Connecticut’s Global Warming Solutions Act statute requires an 80 percent reduction of 2001 level gases by 2050, and the greenhouse gases emitted by this plan are not in alignment with our goals to address climate change. 

Plans for Killingly Power Plant Press On

As author Mary Pipher says, if we can transform from “me” to “we,” our voices will be heard, and we will make greater progress to end our dependence on fossil fuels and shrink the dichotomy between science and politics.

 

Actions opposing NTE Energy’s Killingly power plant will continue, and volunteers are needed to participate. Please contact martha.klein@sierraclub.org to lend your voice and skills to the cause. 

 

Alysis Morrissey is Director of Communications for Indian Mountain School, a member of the Sierra Club Connecticut Communications Committee, and a Sierra Club member.