Activists Protest Killingly Power Plant, Construction Planned for Spring

NTE Energy plans to break ground on the Killingly Energy Center in the spring of 2020.

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About 50 environmental activists and a sprinkling of lawmakers stood at the foot of the State Capitol building Wednesday with one main request.

"Kill the plant," the crowd chanted.

The protest, organized by the Sierra Club, was planned to voice opposition to the planned Killingly Energy Center.

NTE Energy set its sights on a piece of land in Killingly about five years ago. After years of planning, they have plans to break ground on the KEC in the spring of 2020.

According to NTE's website, the KEC is a 650-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant, which will be a "source of clean and efficient electric capacity and energy for many communities and utilities in the region."

NTE reports that the KEC will power approximately 500,000 homes.

"Having another gas-fired plant does not make much sense," said State Representative Michael Winkler (D-Vernon), who also serves on the Energy and Technology Committee.

Winkler was one of about a dozen who spoke at Wednesday's protest. The group raised concerns over air quality, pollution and long-term effects from adding another power plant to Killingly, marking the town's second.

Ian McDonald lives miles away from the proposed site and has been protesting the plans for several years.

"Not having any assurances that my kids are going to be poisoned? That is more frustrating than coming here and talking about this," said McDonald.

NTE Energy reported to Killingly Town Council in the beginning of January, that KEC will be, "among the cleanest, most efficient natural gas power generation facilities in North America, utilizing state-of-the-art electric generation technology that will allow it to operate 25% more efficiently than the average electric generator in Connecticut."

The company also told council members during the special meeting that, "KEC will be one of the most efficient and lowest-emitting power generation facilities in New England, providing cleaner backup power than existing units."

Protesters on Wednesday were chanting, "frack no, gas has got to go," speaking out against NTE retrieving natural gas through the use of hydraulic fracturing.

The Sierra Club says that fracking poses risks to the environment.

NTE addressed those concerns in the January meeting with Killingly Town Council. Their presentation claims that the KEC, "will receive gas/fuel from the interstate pipeline system, the same gas used in homes for cooking and heating; natural gas on the interstate pipeline is sourced from a number of sources, including conventional recovery, unconventional recovery, LNG and landfill gas. KEC will not be reliant on gas sourced via unconventional recovery."

This comes as Gov. Ned Lamont continues his push for a carbon-free target for the electric center by 2040. Lamont pushed that mission in his State of the State address Wednesday.

"Connecticut will continue to take the lead in New England and set a firm timeline for a carbon-free, energy-efficient future," Lamont said.

NTE Energy sent NBC Connecticut a statement explaining that the KEC helps the state achieve that goal.

"For Connecticut to achieve its zero carbon goals by 2040, it is essential that older, higher-polluting coal- and oil-fired plants be replaced in the short term with natural gas-fired facilities capable of meeting the region's energy needs," Tim Eves, Managing Partner for NTE Energy wrote in a statement.

The KEC would bring in over $100 million to the Town of Killingly in taxes. NBC Connecticut reached out to the town manager's office, but they had no comment.

According to KEC's website, with construction set to begin in spring of 2020, the site should be operational by 2022.

"I see a real possibility that the plant will come under scrutiny and perhaps legislation will be passed to make it more difficult to implement," said Winkler.

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