Cape May Co. coal-fired power plant to switch to natural gas

    A coal-fired power plant on the Great Egg Harbor Bay in Cape May County, N.J. is switching over to natural gas.

    New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Lawrence Hajna said the state expects to reach a formal conversion agreement with the owners of the B.L. England Generating Station in the next few weeks.

    “Ultimately we will have much cleaner emissions coming from that plant once this agreement is finalized, on the order of a tenth of the total pollution that is currently coming from the plant,” Hajna said. “It’s going to be a major win for the state.”

    A consent order from the state of New Jersey would have required the owners of the generating station to make upgrades to reduce emissions by May 1.

    The Sierra Club is protesting the fact that the upcoming switch to natural gas will temporarliy allow the company to dodge those requirements. 

    “Even if the owner does make the commitment to re-power, we’re still calling on the governor and the DEP to impose those fines for not meeting the deadline,” the Sierra Club’s Christine Guhl said. “They’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this.”

    Hajna said the new conversion agreement will supersede the old consent agreement. He could not provide the details of an interim pollution reduction strategy that will be included in a conversion agreement, which he said will be finalized in the next few weeks.

    New federal emissions standards on coal-fired power plants will likely cause many to shut down or convert to natural gas power in the coming years.

    The share of the nation’s energy being generated by coal has decreased slightly in the past decade, while the share generated by natural gas has risen by more than 50 percent.

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