NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Officials announced big plans on Wednesday for a natural gas power plant in North Jersey, but it’s generating debate over who exactly will benefit.
What currently stands as a concrete recycling plant in the Meadowlands could soon be developed into one of the largest power plants in the Garden State.
The catch? All that electricity will actually get shipped across the river.
“The plant will safely power 1.2 million homes in New York City and simultaneously reduce reliance on oil and gas-fired power,” Vice President of Development at North Bergen Liberty Power David Deutsch said.
Environmental groups say the generator station on the banks of the Hackensack River would have major consequences.
“To add insult to injury the power is going to New York City,” Jeff Tittel, Director of the NJ Sierra Club, said. “They get the electricity, the power company makes money, and we get the pollution.”
After years of dumping, the Meadowlands has slowly recovered and turned into an environmental oasis.
“I grew up in the Meadowlands and the old way of thinking was ‘it’s just an area to use and be abused,’ and that just has to stop,” Don Torino, President of the Bergen County Audubon Society, said.
But North Bergen officials say they’re not concerned about the environmental impact because it will be the most efficiently run power plant in the nation.
“The chance to bring in a significant rateable like this that has literally no impact on neighborhoods, no impact on schools, very little impact on services, it’s a pretty rare opportunity,” North Bergen Spokesman Philip Swibinski said.
North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco called it a “boon for labor” which could create thousands of jobs as the project is built.
People who live and work in the area say they want to know more.
“Sounds like a great idea but I would need to do more research,” Hoboken resident Bennett Snyder said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be good for people in this area but it helps New York City why not,” North Bergen worker Katie McCann said.
The project is hoping to have permits approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection by the end of 2019, and to be operational by 2022.
The NJ DEP acknowledges the project has various applications in for air and land use permits that are currently under review.