Legislators discuss power plant with citizens

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State senators Joseph Crisco (D-17), left, and Joan Hartley (D-15) listen to citizens Tuesday at the Whittemore Memorial Library in Naugatuck during a discussion on the proposed Towantic Power Plant in Oxford. -LUKE MARSHALL
State senators Joseph Crisco (D-17), left, and Joan Hartley (D-15) listen to citizens Tuesday at the Whittemore Memorial Library in Naugatuck during a discussion on the proposed Towantic Power Plant in Oxford. -LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — As opponents of the proposed Towantic Power Plant in Oxford voice their concerns locally, two state legislators said they are fighting the proposal in Hartford.

State senators Joan Hartley (D-15) and Joseph Crisco (D-17) met with concerned citizens Tuesday at the Whittemore Memorial Library to discuss the proposed plant. Hartley said she and Crisco have already voiced their own concerns on the project.

“You all are talking to the wrong people. Senator Crisco and I have worked tooth and nail on this thing going back to last year,” Hartley said. “My involvement with this goes back to 1999 when this first came about. I think you all know where I stand.”

In November, the Connecticut Siting Council agreed to consider an application from the Massachusetts-based Competitive Power Ventures for a larger power plant to be built off Woodruff Hill Road in Oxford.

The project had been approved based on permits from 1999 allowing for a 512-megawatt plant on 26 acres in an industrial zone a half-mile east of Waterbury-Oxford Airport. The proposed plant is now planned to be an 805-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant, to be constructed by June 1, 2019.

The council recently concluded hearing testimony from all sides about the project, and is expected to vote on it in May.

Hartley said part of the problem is that the current legislation allows the certificate of environmental compatibility for the construction of power plants and other electricity generating facilities to remain valid for an unlimited amount of time.

Hartley said she has also introduced a bill in the Senate that puts a time limit such certificates. The maximum they could be extended for is 10 years, under the proposed legislation.

Environmentalist Len Yannielli of Naugatuck addressed the environmental concerns opponents have regarding the plant. He said the power plant will release carbon into the air as particulate matter of less than 2.5 micrometers. He said the particulate matter would be breathed in by residents for miles around the power plant and would lead to health risks.

CPV officials have countered the concerns by saying the plant is within state and federal environmental guidelines.

Hartley told the crowd gathered at the library that she is working a parallel track to them.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can,” Hartley said.