CSC: Docket No. 225 Opinion
Decisions

DOCKET NO. 225 - Kleen Energy Systems, LLC application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance and operation of an Electric Generating Facility and Switchyard on River Road, Middletown, Connecticut.

PETITION NO. 549 - Kleen Energy Systems, LLC petition for a declaratory ruling that no Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need is required for the proposed transmission line interconnection from the proposed Electric Generating Facility and Switchyard on River Road to existing 345 kV Connecticut Light and Power transmission line number 353.

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Connecticut

 

Siting

 

Council

 

November 21, 2002

OPINION

On March 15, 2002, Kleen Energy Systems, LLC (Kleen Energy) applied to the Connecticut Siting Council (Council) for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Certificate) to construct a 520 MW natural gas-fired combined-cycle electric generating facility and switchyard in the City of Middletown, Connecticut.

By statute, the Council must find a public benefit for a proposed project in order to grant approval. A public benefit is found to exist if the proposed project is determined to be necessary for the reliability of the electric power supply of this State or for a competitive market for electricity, under Connecticut General Statutes Section 16-50p(c)(1). A reliable electric supply is of great importance to Connecticut, a service-oriented state which has become increasingly dependent on electricity for a wide and growing number of uses. To improve the reliability of the state's electric supply system, the proposed facility would operate on natural gas with a proven technology to augment and eventually replace other existing generating facilities in the state. We are confident that the proposed technology of this facility with natural gas as a fuel will help to improve reliability. However, when natural gas supplies are not available, or are not economical, Kleen Energy proposes to operate its plant on low sulfur distillate No. 2 fuel oil. The project would tie into a nearby existing 345 kV Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) electric transmission line, which would relieve electric transmission constraints in the Middletown area. Kleen Energy expects most of the project's output would be used to satisfy demand in Connecticut. Peak demand for electricity in Connecticut has already exceeded last year's projections for the year 2010. Similar projections for New England have also been exceeded, as summer weather increasingly influences electric customer load. The project's benefits are that it would provide in-state generation of power to meet increasing demand; the likely replacement of more polluting and costly oil-fired units in the Independent Systems Operator New England (ISO-NE) system; and the diminished need to import power into Connecticut, given transmission import constraints.

The proposed project site consists of 137 acres of land between Bow Lane and River Road within an existing Industrial zone in Middletown. The site is bounded to the north by the Connecticut River, whose basin has been designated by the Nature Conservancy as "one of the Last Great Places". The western boundary of the site abuts residentially zoned land which is now vacant, while land to the east of the site is owned by CL&P and contains the afore-mentioned 345 kV line. The south portion of the site is bordered by Bow Lane, with the nearest residence being approximately 650 feet from the nearest developed portion of the facility. Development of the facility will be concentrated on a portion of the site that was extensively mined for feldspar and pegmatite for over a century. Topography of the site ranges from moderately steep to steep with areas of mining disturbance. An oak-birch forest now exists on the site, which, if left intact on non-developed areas, would serve to screen the project acoustically and visually.

The project would use the nearby Connecticut River for its cooling needs, averaging an estimated 2,800,000 gallons daily and rising to 4,500,000 gallons daily during peak use. Kleen Energy proposes to use mechanical draft (wet) cooling towers. The use of air-cooled condensers was considered but rejected because of the larger area required, greater structure height, and increased costs. A joint venture entity would be created between Armetta and Associates LLC and the City of Middletown in which water would be drawn through wells with laterals installed under the bed of the Connecticut River. Since the water would be collected from sand and gravel deposits underneath the river, fish entrainment and impingement would not occur. The maximum daily water demand would represent 0.6 percent of the lowest fresh water flow ever recorded on the Connecticut River, and this volume of water withdrawal would not adversely affect instream water flows or riverine fish habitat.

Natural gas for the project would be supplied by a lateral pipeline running from the Duke/Algonquin pipeline in Glastonbury. A natural gas transmission lateral pipeline exists underneath the Connecticut River connecting the nearby NRG Middletown Station to the Duke/Algonquin main line. A tap and current terminus point at Middletown Station to the proposed site would be required and would be the subject of a future petition to the Council. Kleen Energy seeks to burn low sulfur distillate fuel as an alternative fuel, rather than strictly an emergency fuel, thereby obtaining maximum flexibility and allowing the applicant to use whichever fuel is the most economical. Flexibility would not be without limits however, as the project could not operate for more than 720 hours a year on back up fuel oil, which is a standard DEP permit for alternative fuel. The fuel oil would be supplied via the existing Buckeye pipeline which passes under the Connecticut River. Kleen Energy would construct a new oil pipeline in River Road to the utility corridor leading to the site’s 950,000-gallon oil storage tank. This system of delivery would eliminate the need for fuel truck traffic in and out of the site.

Public safety concerns have now moved to the forefront among all considerations. Fire protection systems for the facility would be designed in accordance with National Fire Protection Association recommendations, and would include an independent gas-based automatic fire extinguishing system on each combustion turbine. Automatic and manual fire protection systems with detection and extinguishing equipment would be provided at all locations deemed potential fire hazards due to combustible materials. Kleen Energy has drafted an Emergency Management Evacuation Plan designed to cover procedures in the event of catastrophes including major accidents, explosions, fires, bomb threats, toxic gas releases or other life-threatening occurrence. All chemical storage areas on the proposed site would be located indoors with appropriate containment. A security fence would be constructed around the perimeter of the proposed site, and a staffed security gate would include video surveillance monitoring. A cul-de-sac at the end of the site's access road would allow emergency vehicles to turn around.

The Kleen Energy facility would be visible from the north on the Portland side of the river, especially to a number of homes on Wellwyn Drive at a distance of approximately 3000 feet, with only a minor amount of screening from deciduous trees. However, trees, topography and distance should combine to limit views of the facility from the Middletown side of the river. The most prominent features on the site would be the two 215-foot high stacks, the 95-foot high powerhouse and the 60-foot high cooling towers. Kleen Energy would use a neutral color scheme on these buildings. To further mitigate visual impacts, Kleen Energy would construct the proposed facility approximately 60 feet below the existing ground level. The facility would be substantially obscured from views along the Connecticut River due to the straits of the river, a steep narrow gorge in this area. The visibility of the plume rising from the cooling towers would be significantly reduced by the employment of a cooling tower plume abatement system.

The Council also opines that a fifty percent reduction in the size of the 345 kV switchyard, attainable by the use of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) switchgear, would have the desirable effect of reducing visibility.

A facility of this magnitude cannot be constructed or operated without producing a significant amount of noise. Kleen Energy therefore proposes to incorporate extensive noise controls which would bring the facility into compliance with state standards. To that end, an acoustically-treated turbine building, high performance exhaust stack silencers, enclosures for the boiler feedwater pumps, circulation pumps and the gas compressor, and mitigation of the cooling tower would all be enlisted to dampen sound levels.

The Middletown area is in attainment with state and federal standards for all air pollutants but ozone, which is created in the atmosphere by nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic carbons (VOC's) in the presence of sunlight. This project would use state of the art technology to control NOx with dry low NOx combustors and selective catalytic reduction. Emissions of VOC would be controlled by proper combustion techniques.

The project would meet requirements for air emissions, including New Source Performance Standards and Prevention of Significant Deterioration Standards. Kleen Energy has completed and submitted to the DEP two forms of air emissions modeling, and both of these modeling results must be approved by the DEP before air permits are issued and the facility is allowed to operate. Over time, the project may be expected to improve regional air quality by the displacement of older, more polluting generating sources and by the acquisition of NOx offsets at a rate of 1.2 times that of its maximum potential NOx emissions. The facility would also be subject to continuous air emissions monitoring by the DEP.

Although subjected to mining activities which have altered its vegetation and soils, the proposed site nevertheless offers benefits to wildlife in the form of habitat and cover. The wetlands on the site have developed subsequent to the mining activities but still offer important functions such as nutrient and sediment trapping and habitat for amphibians. The Eastern box turtle is known to occur in the immediate area. This is a species of special concern and any development on the site should take this species and its habitat into consideration.

Kleen Energy would restore and create 1.37 acres of wetlands and 780 feet of stream on the site, a net increase of 0.52 acres of wetlands and 50 linear feet of stream habitat. The Middletown Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Commission has approved a Wetland Restoration and Compensation Plan for the site.

The Council endorses the applicant's proposal to create a reserve area of approximately 50 acres on the western portion of the site. The City of Middletown and environmental groups would be consulted in determining the reserve area.

The State Historic Preservation Office reviewed an archaeological reconnaissance survey of the site and determined the project would have no effect on the state's archaeological heritage.

Despite some concerns, this project can be developed in a manner to provide a clean and reliable source of electric generation, minimize impacts to the community and the environment and provide economic benefits to the City of Middletown and the State of Connecticut.

The Council notes that the applicant cooperated with both the City of Middletown and Town of Portland in the development of this project and provided useful information in a clear and timely manner to both the Council and the public during the hearing process. The Council further believes the project offers substantial benefits to the public that outweigh potential environmental effects. Therefore, the Council will issue a Certificate for this facility, accompanied by orders including a detailed Development and Management Plan (D&M Plan) with elements designed to protect resources on site and mitigate impacts off site.

The D&M Plan will include at a minimum specific provisions for: collector wells constructed to take water from the riverbed of the Connecticut River with architectural treatment of these structures; the identification and protection of a reserve area of at least 50 acres in extent; protection of wetlands and watercourses by proper erosion and sediment controls; detailed project schedules; landscaping and the use of forested areas as buffers; architectural treatment of all buildings and structures; spill prevention; construction blasting; and management of electric and magnetic fields (EMF). Specific details of the D&M Plan are set forth in the Decision and Order. The Council will also require submittal of an Operations Plan with baseline testing, monitoring, and protocol to address public complaints, noise emissions, water use and discharge, air and water vapor emissions, odors, plant lighting, traffic management, physical plant and site management and EMF exposure. To undertake inspection and evaluate the progress of this project, the Council will require advance notification of the commencement of facility construction, testing and commercial operations and the permanent termination of any operation of the project; quarterly progress reports, a first year operating report, and submittal of final DEP permits.

Based on the record in this proceeding, we find that the effects associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the electric generating facility at the proposed site, including effects on the natural environment; ecological integrity and balance; public health and safety; scenic, historic, and recreational values; forests and parks; air and water purity; and fish and wildlife are not disproportionate either alone or cumulatively with other effects when compared to benefit, are not in conflict with the policies of the State concerning such effects, and are not sufficient reason to deny the proposed project. Therefore, we will issue a Certificate for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a natural gas-fired electric generating facility at the proposed site located off of River Road in Middletown, Connecticut.



Content Last Modified on 12/3/2002 9:47:46 AM