Competitive Power Ventures broke ground today on an $845 million, natural gas-fueled power plant in Woodbridge, a project touted for its promise to reduce the state's reliance on imported energy — and for redeveloping a brownfield site that once housed a chemical plant.
The 700-megawatt facility is expected to open by early 2016 and generate enough electricity to power 700,000 homes, company representatives said. CPV, a Silver Spring, Md.-based energy firm, is developing the plant with Toyota Tsusho Corp. and ArcLight Capital Partners, whose subsidiary will operate the facility.
Executives and public officials gathered for a ceremony today in an industrial section of Woodbridge, an area long slated for redevelopment after decades of contamination by chemical companies. The so-called CPV Woodbridge Energy Center will occupy a 28-acre section of the remediated site, which abuts the Raritan River.
The project also was one of three that stood to benefit from a controversial state program to spur new power plant construction. But a potential subsidy for the plant, coming under the Long-Term Capacity Agreement pilot program, is in jeopardy after a federal judge recently sided with a group of energy companies that challenged the plan.
The state Board of Public Utilities is considering whether to appeal the ruling.
Still, some of the policy objectives behind LCAPP were touted at today's groundbreaking. Gov. Chris Christie said the natural gas-powered CPV project would ease the strain on New Jersey ratepayers in an environmentally friendly way.
And it will give residents and businesses "more available lower-cost energy that is not imported from some place else across the country, where we are subject to the vagaries of what they want to do when demand goes up," Christie said.
"We've had too little of that in this state, and we've been too dependent on out-of-state sources for our energy needs," said Christie, who took the stage with state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford). That's why the state has pushed for development of the three new facilities and "why we're continuing … to make sure that we take every step that's necessary to get these plants built."
Meanwhile, Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac called the CPV power plant "the biggest project ever" in the township. The facility will generate more than $100 million in tax revenue for Woodbridge over the next 30 years, he said.
The project will use about 500 construction workers, many of them on site today with bright orange T-shirts declaring union support for Christie.