SAYREVILLE – Amid debate, members of the Sayreville Borough Council have officially voiced opposition to a proposed gas-fired power plant in Woodbridge.
The council voted 4-2 to pass a resolution opposing the construction of the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) Keasbey Power Plant in nearby Keasbey, a section of Woodbridge Township, at a meeting on Sept. 12.
Council President Michele Maher and Council members Vincent Conti, Eunice Dwumfour and Christian Onuoha voted “yes” on demonstrating opposition to the proposed power plant; Councilwomen Mary Novak and Donna Roberts voted “no”.
With the passage of the resolution, Sayreville becomes the sixth municipality to oppose CPV’s proposed power plant.
The proposed power plant is proposed to be 630 megawatts and gas-powered, according to a press release from the organization Food & Water Watch. CPV intends to construct the proposed power plant in the Keasbey section of Woodbridge.
Charlie Kratovil of Food & Water Watch urged the governing body to approve the resolution.
“This project would turn the Raritan Waterfront facility into one of the largest climate polluters in New Jersey,” he said. “[It will be] making climate change even worse, leading to more frequent and extreme storms, as well as droughts, floods and wildfires.
“Some people are still not convinced of the threat the climate crisis poses to the planet and our society, but even for the same folks who don’t see the same threat we do, they should still be opposed to this project [because] it will pollute the air in Sayreville.”
The Sayreville Environmental Commission recommended opposing the proposed power plant, with commission member Alexandria Haris and resident Arthur DeSarno, who is a volunteer with Food & Water Watch, also expressing support for the resolution.
“There’s no need for a gas plant that hasn’t been confirmed to be serving the community and our needs,” Haris said. “I really hope the mayor and council decide tonight [they] will be opposing this plant because it does negatively impact the health of young children. This plant’s not improving the air quality, it’s making it worse.”
Roberts made a motion to table the resolution until a public hearing could be held to allow both sides of the issue to express their views. Novak seconded the motion.
The motion to table the resolution failed in a 2-4 vote. Novak and Roberts voted “yes” to table; Maher, Conti, Dwumfour and Onuoha voted “no”.
In voting against the resolution, Novak noted that the use of limited natural gas power energy plants was supported by various environmental state agencies and voiced concerns about moving away from gas power.
“[Gov. Phil Murphy] called for anybody with a gas-powered boiler that needs repairs to be replaced with an electric one,” she said. “That means all the government buildings, churches and schools are going to have to replace it with electric. We cannot sustain this.
“I’m all for doing this when we’re there, but right now, if we take less efficient gas-fired and coal-fired plants offline and replace them with more energy efficient [sources], the poor and middle class can’t afford to have their own generator gas-fired for their house.
“If there’s a blackout because we don’t have enough power, the poor people will be cut off from power. This plant will supply power to the Tri-State area,” Novack said.
Roberts reiterated her support for hearing both sides of the issue and commented that CPV would be benefitting Woodbridge by remediating brownfields (previously developed vacant land).
“Woodbridge and other towns probably would not appreciate us going and telling their town what kind of businesses and production that they can have in their town,” she said. “On many levels, I think that we could have had a more robust debate and conversation on both sides to make a better decision.”
Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick, who supported the opposition to the proposed power plant, emphasized the resolution had no legal power and was a statement on where Sayreville’s elected officials stood on the issue.
“We support our volunteers and our environmental commission,” she said. “We support environmental cleanliness and the safety of our residents. I have bad news. [The proposed power plant] is going through. So, this is a matter of what your elected officials think of your safety, your environment and your air.”