Company hosts Oxford power plant open house

We saw no Middlebury officials at the Aug. 5, 2014, Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) Towantic Energy Center open house. The company open house was meant to provide information on the 805-MW gas-fueled power plant it proposes to construct at Waterbury-Oxford Airport. That power plant will be within 500 feet of the Middlebury town line.

State Sen. Joan Hartley (R-15) was there. Hartley, who opposed the power plant project when it first was proposed 15 years ago, said she wasn’t yet ready to take a position on the updated proposal. She said she was in the information-gathering stage.

Oxford First Selectman George Temple was there. Temple said, “I think most people in Oxford are for it because of the benefit.” A CPV poster listed as Oxford’s benefits $900,000 for a fire truck, $400,000 for a water pump and $800,000 for tax stabilization, all in 2007. In 2009 and 2010, CPV gave Oxford $1.175 million in lieu of taxes; in 2011, that payment was $500,000. Temple said the town will receive $6.5 million when CPV breaks ground on the project.

Middlebury First Selectman Edward B. St. John spoke of the power plant project at the Aug. 4, 2014, Board of Selectmen meeting, saying, “We will fight the fight. We fought it before and we will fight it again.” He said the Town of Middlebury opposed the power plant 15 years ago and the town’s position hasn’t changed. He said the most recent proposal is for an even more intrusive plant than the one proposed in 1999. On Monday night, he said he would attend the Aug. 5 open house. He did not. Also on Monday night, the selectmen appointed Ray Pietrorazio as liaison to the airport and the power plant project. Pietrorazio did not attend the open house.

Jay and Jackie Halpern of Oxford, who helped form Citizens for the Defense of Oxford when the original power plant proposal came up, attended the open house and were gathering information on the current project.

Quite a few people were at the open house, but most were union members who drove in from as far away as Preston, Conn., to check on job opportunities. The project is expected to last 30 months and employ 300 to 500 workers. CPV spokesperson Steven Sullivan said the company hires union workers for all its jobs. Fifteen years ago, the DEEP approved a 550-MW power plant. CPV proposes an 805-MW power plant and is in the process of getting the project permits updated accordingly. That is expected to take 6 to 9 months. The company expects to break ground on the project in the second half of 2015. The project’s two stacks will rise 150 feet above the ground. CPV staff said their project will help keep electricity costs in check when other electricity producers retire in 2017.

Temple said of the project, “I think it’s going to be good for the town. It’s in an industrial area, and once it gets in most people won’t notice it’s even there.”


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