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Secaucus and West New York join opposition to gas-fired power plant in Newark

The municipalities are the latest to announce their stand against the planned natural gas facility

The Secaucus Town Council met in person on March 22.

Two more Hudson County municipalities have joined calls opposing plans for a gas-burning power plant adjacent to a sewage plant in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark. Instead of natural gas, they are calling for renewable energy sources to be utilized.

The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) is proposing to construct a gas-fired power plant in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark. The planned Standby Power Generation Facility was proposed as part of a resiliency project in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to provide back-up power to the facility.

Residents and activists have been rallying municipal governments to oppose the plant, as they did with the proposed NJ TransitGrid fracked-gas power plant in Kearny. Many are concerned that the plant would likely be used more than just in a back-up scenario, adding to pollution in the surrounding area.

Last June, the PVSC announced that it plans to reevaluate its current proposal for the power plant at its sewage treatment facility in Newark after community members and environmental activists from across the region opposed the plan in favor of renewable energy.

Regardless of the announcement, activists are keeping the pressure on PVSC. In Hudson County, Hoboken and Jersey City have passed a similar resolution against the proposed power plant in 2021, even after the announcement in June. Earlier this month, Weehawken passed a resolution doing the same. And now more municipalities are joining the fray.

Secaucus 

The governing bodies of the towns of Secaucus and West New York have both passed resolutions “opposing the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s proposed gas-burning power plant and supporting the use of renewable energy to achieve its resiliency goals.”

Secaucus previously opposed power generating projects that would have adverse environmental and social impacts, such as the aforementioned proposed plant in Kearny. Now Mayor Michael Gonnelli and the Town Council are looking “to protect the health and safety of its residents and businesses as well as to ensure the prudent spending of tax dollars paid by its citizens,” according to the resolution, by unanimously opposing PVSC’s proposal.

The town does not oppose PVSC’s efforts to improve the resiliency of its sewage treatment plant, but wants a greener alternative to be utilized. The resolution specifically opposes PVSC’s proposal in lieu of a renewable energy-based hybrid microgrid powered primarily by solar and battery storage.

“We are joining the other municipalities that are against it,” Gonnelli told the Hudson Reporter, noting the potential pollution that could affect Secaucus.

A rendering of the proposed Standby Power Generation Facility.

West New York

In West New York, the move to oppose the natural gas power plant in favor of renewable energy alternatives was in the works since 2021. Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez and the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

Brielle Jeffries, a resident of WNY who had petitioned the town to pass the resolution in the past, was pleased to see it make it across the finish line. 

“I was very excited about that, to oppose the PVSC proposed gas-burning power plant,” Jeffries said. “I think this is a great step that West New York is taking. I just want to thank the mayor and commissioners for getting that through. 

In response, Commissioner Margarita Guzman thanked Jeffries for being involved the West New York community on this matter and others: “This is a good matter to come here about. I like the youth to come and bring their solution. Everything that matters to you, matters to our society and our community. Thank you for your involvement.”

Other towns next?

A similar resolution was set to appear on the agenda of the March meeting of the Bayonne City Council. While there was seemingly no mention of it at the meeting, the resolution was removed and not approved. The City Clerk’s Office confirmed this to the Bayonne Community News.

North Bergen officials said they were weighing the idea back in 2021, but nothing has came of it since. However, as opponents to the power plant again mobilize against the proposal in favor of renewable energy sources, the topic is likely to come up again at board meetings across the county.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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