As the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township prepares to permanently shut down, another energy generating facility could soon be going up in our region.

The Air Force is leading negotiations with a developer to consider leasing land at the Joint Base Mcguire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) for a commercial energy generating venture.

Matthew Bell, JBMDL Chief of Portfolio Optimization, said the specifics about the project, such as its scale and scope, have yet to be determined but there are a number of benefits. Such as in the case of a significant storm related power outage that the JBMDL experienced following Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, Bell explains that a local energy generating facility would provide much needed energy security to the joint base.

There are economic advantages as well. Bell explains, "we project that this will provide the Joint Base with an additional revenue stream that we can use to fund infrastructure needs as well as maintenance repairs and even new construction."

However, allowing commercial interest on a military base raises security issues that Bell said are an important consideration for them as well. "We believe that projects can be executed that essentially isolate the project from the bases itself and almost 'island them', so to speak, as far as security fencing and such go, he explains."

According to Bell, plans to allow a commercial energy generating company on its grounds is a first for the JBMDL, however, the Air Force has done eight Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) projects successfully and have several more on the table around the country.

A JBMDL press release states that "EULs are long-term agreements between the Air Force and public entities or private developers to lease non-excess Air Force property in exchange for cash or in-kind consideration. Such lease projects cover a broad range, from renewable and conventional energy development to commercial use of real estate ...... to date, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, or AFCEC, has closed eight EUL projects with considerations worth more than $250 million."