This morning, the Editorial Board of the Times Tribune weighed in, praising the Jessup Borough Council for their “responsible judgement” in approving the Conditional Use Permit. Read more…
Jessup Borough Council continued to exercise responsible judgment by granting a recent regulatory victory to a company seeking to construct a controversial power plant.
Council approved a conditional use permit for Invenergy LLC on Dec. 21, acknowledging the company’s compliance with borough zoning regulations. The Chicago energy company wants to construct a 1,500-megawatt, gas-fired power plant near the Casey Highway in Jessup.
The award of the permit removes a major hurdle to development of the estimated $500 million plant by concluding a lengthy battle over the town’s zoning ordinance. The Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission in April judged the borough’s zoning code restrictive because it effectively banned power plant construction anywhere in Jessup. Borough council in September amended the zoning ordinance to remove the power plant restriction, essentially acknowledging Invenergy’s superior legal position on the issue.
Council attached 15 conditions when it issued the operating permit, many of which are fairly standard procedural and regulatory stipulations, such as the availability of state environmental reports and guaranteed access for local inspections.
Invenergy recently doubled its host agreement offer to the borough to $1 million annually, and the company exhibited good faith in the spring when it dropped plans for a water-based cooling system in favor of an air-cooled setup to ease alarm about the potential impact of the plant’s wastewater on Lackawanna River water quality.
Council members have continued to honor their obligation to Jessup residents by adhering to the law and rejecting the emotionally charged arguments put forth by opponents of the plant.
The Lackawanna Energy Center continues to make steady progress. After gathering input from the community and carefully analyzing the project, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has determined that the project will meet all air-quality regulations. For more information, see below…
JEFF HORVATH, STAFF WRITER
Published: December 24, 2015
For the second time this week, a controversial power plant project proposed in Jessup took a major step forward, as the state Department of Environmental Protection approved Wednesday a key air quality permit for the plant.
The granting of the air quality permit reflects DEP’s belief that the proposed Lackawanna Energy Center will not cause air pollution in violation of National Ambient Air Quality standards.
This comes just two days after Jessup Borough council granted Invenergy LLC, the plant’s developer, a conditional use permit indicating that the project is in compliance with the borough’s zoning ordinance.
The 1,500 megawatt, natural gas-fired proposed plant has divided the community of Jessup, with some residents questioning the accuracy of air modeling data used to generate emissions figures.
Mike Bedrin, director of the DEP Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre, was quoted in a Wednesday press release as saying “the department conducted a thorough and complete review of the application and determined it met all air quality regulations.”
IES Engineers, contracted by Jessup to review Invenergy’s air quality and air monitoring data, also reported that National Ambient Air Quality standards will be maintained.
“This is another thing that we can check off,” said Invenergy attorney Mike Blazer. “We were expecting this and had been for some time.”
Jessup Borough solicitor Richard Fanucci also said the permit approval comes as no surprise.
“We anticipated that the permit would be coming based on the (IES) engineer’s assessment of the air modeling data,” Mr. Fanucci said.
While the air permit comes just days after Jessup granted Invenergy zoning approval, DEP spokesperson Colleen Connolly said the timing was just coincidental.
The next major DEP permit Invenergy needs is an industrial waste water permit. A public hearing concerning that permit will be held at the Valley View High School auditorium from 6 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 4.
During the first half of that meeting, DEP officials and Invenergy consultants will answer questions about the project and permitting process that relate specifically to the industrial waste water permit.
Individuals will then be given the opportunity to offer comments or voice concerns, which will be addressed by DEP in the form of a comment response document at a later date.
Invenergy is also waiting on a storage tank permit from DEP.
In addition to the remaining DEP permits, Jessup Borough must grant land development and building permits before construction can begin.
Last night, the Jessup Borough Council took an important vote to move Jessup forward. By 6-1, a clear majority of the Council approved the Conditional Use Permit for the Lackawanna Energy Center, allowing this important project to move forward. Read more below …
A controversial power plant project proposed in Jessup took a major step forward Monday when borough council granted a conditional use permit to Invenergy LLC, the plant’s developer.
Council voted 6-to-1 to approve the company’s permit application before a packed audience. Councilman Joseph Mellado cast the lone dissenting vote.
The permit indicates that Invenergy is in compliance with the borough’s zoning ordinance, bringing the 1,500-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant, which will be known as the Lackawanna Energy Center, one step closer to becoming a reality.
With the vote, council set 15 conditions that are now permanently attached to the operating permit, meaning that Jessup can pull the permit at any time if the conditions are not met.
Conditions demand that the Lackawanna Energy Center be in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations, obtain all necessary permits prior to construction and enter into a road repair agreement with the borough.
Furthermore, a complaints phone line must be established, copies of Department of Environmental Protection emissions monitoring and waste water reports must be provided to the borough, and designated borough personnel must be granted site access for inspection.
Other conditions set construction hours, call for an emergency response plan in consultation with local emergency services, and require project lighting and the appearance of exhaust stacks to be reasonably unobtrusive.
Invenergy must also enter into a host community agreement with Jessup as a condition of the permit.
The company raised their host agreement offer from $500,000 to $1 million annually earlier this month, but terms of the host agreement have not been finalized and could change.
Prior to the vote, several residents raised concerns about the plant.
“This fine particulate matter (produced by the plant) will cause lung cancer, COPD, strokes and heart attacks,” resident Ronald Armezzani said. “A million dollars for our health? I know every decision is a gamble, but this is a gamble that we can not afford to lose.”
Borough engineer Dennis Kutch did report that IES Engineers, contracted to review the air quality and air monitoring portion of the application, found that “compliance with national ambient air quality standards will be maintained.”
Others at the meeting spoke in favor of the proposed plant.
“This technology is the future of our electrical system in this country,” said Jeff Addley of the pro-plant group Jobs for Jessup. “This project will provide safe, reliable energy that will make our environment cleaner … and provide long-term, family-sustaining jobs.”
Invenergy is still waiting on several nonborough permits, including an air permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection that they expect to receive shortly and a storage tank permit expected sometime in January, according to Invenergy attorney Michael Blazer.
The state Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public meeting and hearing to discuss an industrial waste water permit — also sought by Invenergy for the project — on Jan. 4 at Valley View High School.
Invenergy’s next step with Jessup Borough will be to present a land development plan. A date for that presentation has not been set.
This Friday nearby Salem Township celebrated the groundbreaking of a new natural gas plant. The residents of Salem know well the jobs and revenue such a plant creates, and they’re looking forward to this new development. Read more below…
SALEM TWP. — In 1979, the year he graduated from Berwick High School, John Gordner witnessed a multimillion-dollar power plant, the PPL Susquehanna Steam nuclear facility, being constructed just across the county border.
“We saw the impact of that once-in-a-lifetime project,” said Mr. Gordner, now a state senator, at a site just down the road from the nuclear plant, now owned by Talen Energy.
The facility created jobs and spurred economic growth, not just for Salem Twp., but the entire region, he said. And on Thursday, he was among state and local officials who gathered to break ground for another power plant, Moxie Freedom, which will use natural gas exclusively from the Marcellus Shale.
“We’re lucky enough some 35 years later to have lightning strike twice, with another $1 billion project,” Mr. Gordner said.
Ross Ain, executive vice president of New York-based Caithness Energy, an independent power producer that is partnering with Moxie Energy LLC, said the Moxie Freedom plant will produce more than 1,000 megawatts of energy, or enough to power about 900,000 homes throughout the region.
During the 34-month construction period, Mr. Ain estimates there will be an average of 250 jobs, and a payroll of more than $80 million.
When built, the facility should provide around 25 to 27 permanent jobs, according to testimony at a hearing over the summer.
Gemma Power Systems LLC will build the plant on a 150-acre parcel in an industrial zone on Mingle Inn Road, off Route 11. South Jersey Resources, a Texas-based natural gas marketing company, is also involved in the project.
State Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, Butler Twp., credited Salem Twp. officials for being “extremely businecss friendly.”
Published in The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.: December 18, 2015
Editor: Where have all the good-paying jobs gone?
The shuttering of the BAE plant in Jessup this month added a loss of 111 more jobs. Why is it that five years ago, it seemed to be easier to find a $50,000-a-year job than it is now?
Company after company has closed and the good-paying jobs have been replaced with $10-an-hour jobs.
So, when a company like Invenergy offers to open a gas-powered plant that would bring good jobs to the area and is attracting companies that could bring additional jobs, people should be thankful.
I support everyone’s right to their own opinion, but having seen the way opposition has reacted to Invenergy and the idea of additional companies locating in our area, I now believe the opposition to the plant is against any change at all. The opposition does not seem to care that people cannot get jobs or the fact that their antics can and may scare off companies from coming to this region.
I support the Invenergy project and want the Jessup council to approve the project and finally begin construction on the Lackawanna Energy Center. I am for giving future generations the choice to stay and be able to live in Lackawanna County. I am for revitalizing our area.
Published in The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.: December 17, 2015
Editor: I have been a supporter of the Invenergy project in Jessup from the very beginning. The reason is simple. I have watched too many of our children move from the area just to find a decent paying job.
I have sat through council work sessions, special council meetings, planning commission meetings and monthly council meetings. I have listened to concerns and heard members of the opposition make their case.
While the recent news has been primarily about the $1 million host agreement, I have been most impressed by the care and thoughtful consideration the council has taken in contemplating the Lackawanna Energy Center proposal. Council and borough engineer Dennis Kutch have done an outstanding job. Council has asked Invenergy to provide checks and balances. Guarantees have been asked for and granted. Invenergy and government officials have worked with council and community members to address concerns and find solutions and answers to questions.
It is now time to get to work. We need council to vote yes to the conditional use permit application so we can get to work and break ground in the spring to help provide jobs for future generations.
Invenergy is committed to being a good neighbor. Look no further than the revised host community agreement, which will provide $1 million a year to Jessup, to see that we practice what we preach. For more information on the revised agreement, see the article below from the Times Tribune …
Jessup could receive $1 million annually from a large scale power plant project, according to a reworked deal with the developer.
Terms of the revised community host agreement, which were presented to borough council at a work session Thursday, say the borough would have sole discretion of the funds, and payments from plant developer Invenergy LLC would increase by 10 percent every decade.
Invenergy, which is proposing to build the 1,500-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant in Jessup, had originally proposed around $500,000 for a host agreement to be divided among the borough, emergency services, community groups and the Valley View School District.
The announcement arrives as council considers whether to grant the company a conditional use permit. During this time, the borough can set reasonable demands that the company must meet, and borough solicitor Richard Fanucci said council can include the host agreement as one of them.
“They violate it or don’t honor it, we could pull their permit,” he said.
Jessup would not receive the $1 million until the plant is complete, but provisions say Invenergy will pay $250,000 each year during construction, with at least two years of payments guaranteed.
“Invenergy prides itself on being a good neighbor,” said company attorney Michael Blazer. “We are fully committed to Jessup, and the agreement tonight is a demonstration of that.”
Borough council is set to meet at 7 p.m. Monday, though it will not vote on the conditional use permit. Council plans to hold a special voting meeting later this month, Mr. Fanucci said.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.: December 4, 2015
Editor: The Invenergy power plant will provide the borough of Jessup and its residents with many benefits that will help improve the community for decades to come. Previous development projects that were proposed for Jessup, such as a prison and National Guard heliport, ended up going elsewhere in the area.
Companies looking to locate in our community aren’t knocking down our doors. I hope another chance to bring jobs and economic benefits to the community isn’t lost. Council should approve the Invenergy plant.
Published in The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.: December 3, 2015
Editor: The more things change, the more they
stay the same. Information on the history of Jessup on the borough’s website
says that the town was settled by immigrants searching for jobs and economic opportunities.
Fast forward about 125 years and the community is still searching for jobs and economic opportunities. Let’s not pass up the many benefits that will be generated by having the Invenergy plant located in Jessup. It will accomplish what generations before us were searching for — jobs and economic opportunities.