Forum Addresses Future Of Oyster Creek [AUDIO]
With 2019 and the closure of Oyster Creek Nuclear power plant looming, Lacey Township held another forum to let residents know about the options available for the site.
Mayor David Most, along with other members of the Township Committee, expressed interest in another power generation station being open where the 44-year-old nuclear plant once stood.
For many, the goal would be to find something to replace the ratables lost by the nuclear plant and create jobs once the areas largest employers closes their doors.
During the forum on Wednesday held at Lacey Middle School, representatives from several government offices were present to answer any questions, as well as discuss the options for the site.
Options for power generation include solar farms, biomass, and even wind turbines. However, a natural gas plant is the one stirring up the most interest from officials and numerous attendees.
While a natural gas plant would be the most cost-efficient to build, coming in at under $200 million, State Energy Manager with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Ed Mercer, notes the infrastructure would have to be augmented as well.
"We would definitely have to increase the size of the gas lines, there isn't the current capacity to handle to serve as a 650 megawatts."
Additionally, jobs are an issue for any new potential tenant would have to address. Oyster Creek employs over 700 people in their current operation and while a new generation station would bring construction and engineering work initially, the long-term employment wouldn't be anywhere as high.
"A 650 megawatt plant would probably employ 40 people," says Mercer.
Early estimates provided at the forum show a natural gas plant having the highest employment outlook. Many other options only require a few dozen employees.
The future of lost jobs is understandable to some residents.
"It is going to be a huge change, but I don't know what the alternative is," said Barnegat resident Nancy Reid.
Regardless of what happens, she hopes it doesn't stall too long after Oyster Creek closes.
"Everything is in the planning stages, it's very vague. Like everything in New Jersey, it takes a long time to come to fruition."