A proposed 1,200 MW gas-fired plant in New Jersey is moving forward, winning several key permits, but it still faces several hurdles.
Diamond Generating's North Bergen Liberty Generating project won freshwater wetlands, flood hazard area and waterfront permits from the state's Department of Environmental Protection.
The project still needs air quality and other permits and approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
The $1.5 billion gas-fired project proposed by Diamond Generating, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, would be sited in the Meadowlands, a marshy area where the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers run into Newark Bay — only a couple miles from New York City.
Diamond Generating's plan is to connect the plant to the New York power market via a cable under the Hudson River and sell the power into the constrained New York City market.
For the developer, the site is ideal. It is an industrial lot that is already zoned for a power plant with access to transmission lines and gas pipelines. For environmentalists, however, the project adds insult to injury. The project is sited on an area that is already environmentally sensitive and flood prone, and local residents will not receive the benefits of the power as it will be exported to New York.
"It is disappointing that the Murphy administration moved so quickly on the land use permits," Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, told Utility Dive, referring to New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.
The DEP should deny the air permit based on the impact of the North Bergen project, Tittel said, especially since there is another gas plant just a couple miles away. But, he said, "the land use permits make me nervous."
"It is up to the governor now, if he is sincere about 100% renewables and rejoining RGGI," Tittel said. In January, Murphy signed an executive order directing the state to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap and trade emissions program that includes nine Northeastern states. And this spring, Murphy signed Executive Order No. 28, which directs state agencies to develop an updated Energy Master Plan that provides a path to 100% clean energy by 2050.
Tittel said the Sierra Club's strategy at this point is going to be to target the governor's office, the DEP and the Meadowland's commission. "One thing I've learned from doing environmental work in New Jersey for 30 years is that it is not always about the environment, it's about the politics," Tittel said.