Power up for Bayonne New electrical production plant proposed

The Hess Corporation, which has long had a presence in Bayonne as an oil producer, is proposing the construction of a power generating plant for a 7-acre piece of waterfront property in an industrial section off Hook Road.

The project, which will partner Hess with ArcLight Capital Partners, LLC, would construct a generating station fueled primarily by natural gas that would generate about 512-megawatts of power. That is enough – according to spokesperson Michael Patterson – to provide the electrical needs for 500,000 homes.

The Knights of Columbus hall on Avenue C hosted a public presentation on Sept. 10 about the project, as representatives from the company greeted concerned residents and tried to answer possible concerns, detailing the cleanliness of the project, the benefits to Bayonne, and the project’s safety.

Patterson said the Bayonne Energy Center (BEC) is currently seeking permits and other approvals from local, state, and federal authorities.

This includes permits from the New Jersey, New York, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since the property is on the waterfront, the U.S. Coast Guard will review its security arrangements, as well.

The project has basically three phases: the permit phase, which Patterson said hopefully will conclude by the end of 2008; then the construction and startup phases with the plant going online by the end of 2010.

“We’re currently in the permit phase,” he said.

Would power NYC

The power would be transported offsite via an underwater cable to Brooklyn, where it would be added into the New York City power grid through a Con Edison substation. Patterson said the generating plant would not require overhead wires for the exporting of electrical power, and that no power would be taken out of the existing New Jersey system.

Dubbed as the Bayonne Energy Center, the project would take about 13 months to construct and would generate as many as 300 construction jobs and 10 full time highly skilled jobs when completed.

“These are all union jobs,” said Paul Barnett, the developer of the project. “Bayonne has PCA on any project over $30 million. But we figured to use union labor right from the beginning of this.”

Estimates for the total cost of the project range from $300 million to $400 million.

The project would substantially increase the tax revenues from a property currently considered vacant, although actual numbers were not available last week. Patterson said the site is zoned for industrial use.

The site previously had been used for the production of corrugated cardboard. The buildings, Hess officials said, have been cleared recently in preparation for construction of the power facility.

“The site hasn’t been used for a number of years,” Patterson said.

In an industrial area

The facility is so remote that it is unlikely that the general public will wander near it even by accident. It is surrounded on all sides by chemical storage tanks and other heavy industrial facilities.

As with nearby IMTT, BEC will be setting up security for the site typical of similar sites elsewhere.

Since the facility will be fueled primarily by natural gas, one concern would be how the gas will be transported there and what impact the construction of piping will have on local residents.

However, BEC representatives said the project would convert an existing underground pipeline Hess previously used for the transport of oil and would tap into the Transco Line just north of Newark Bay in Essex County. Because only a small portion of the pipe nearest the Essex County line needs to be constructed, the public can expect minimal impact. Most of the former oil line is currently located under existing rail lines.

Minimal impact

“We can’t say there won’t be any impact,” Patterson said. “But it will be minimal.”

Because the plant uses state-of-the-art air-cooled power generators, the facility will require no cooling towers typical of older plants, which currently exist in Jersey City and elsewhere. Modern pollution controls will also make this a remarkably environmentally friendly power plant, controlling storm water and air emissions.

Although the facility will use water, this will not reduce the amount of water needed by local residents.

“We’re currently in negotiations with the BMUA (Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority,” said Mike Gregg, vice president for the Hess Corporation.

Gregg said planning for the project took about 18 months and is part of a strategy to find new uses for existing Hess sites.

Patterson said the amount of water is part of what has already been set aside by the BMUA for industrial use.

Bayonne will benefit from the BEC making payments for the water, as well as paying city taxes. BEC will also likely invest in upgrades to the local sewerage system.

The facility will also actively engage in noise control – even though the nearest residence is more than mile away. Patterson said the facility will comply with all local noise ordinances.

email to Al Sullivan


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