Petition started against proposed power plant in New Milford
Published 4:30 pm, Tuesday, November 1, 2016
An online petition against a proposed power plant in New Milford emerged this week and has already started to gain some traction.
Panda Power Funds introduced a plan last month to purchase the former Century Brass mill site and build a 550-megawatt plant powered by natural gas.
Proponents tout the expected economic benefits the company would bring to the tax rolls and community, as well as the idea that the plant will replace a coal-powered or less-efficient plant that would contribute more emissions.
Opponents worry the plant would harm the environment, add noise and light pollution and hurt property values.
The petition lists several reasons to oppose the plant including its proximity to the town green, schools, public ball fields, flood plain and the Housatonic River. Other concerns listed include the possible emissions, it would be “highly visible and audible,” the gas would come from the oil sands in Canada, and only 25 to 30 jobs would be added once construction is complete.
Representatives from Panda have said they’ve worked with community colleges to ensure locals are able to get the training needed for the job so they can hire as many area residents as possible. They also said there would be 300 to 500 construction jobs while the plant is built.
Another concern in the proposal is that an environmental assessment hasn’t been commissioned yet and little information has been presented to the public.
But Mayor David Gronbach and Panda representatives said these steps will come once the company has the option to purchase, which is expected to go to referendum in the coming months. The date hasn’t been set, but Gronbach said he hopes the vote will happen in December. An option to purchase means the land will revert back to the town if the plant proposal isn’t approved.
“I want the town to vote on this and give them a chance to comment,” Gronbach said.
The company also included the public early in the process and so some information isn’t available yet, such as the type of equipment, which determines the emissions, and plant design.
He said he’s heard both opposition and support and encourages everyone to listen to the facts.
“There are a lot of things that have to happen after the option,” Gronbach said. “The option gives us the opportunity to address the issues.”
He said the plant won’t be on the Nov. 14 council agenda.
The petition also encourages the public to attend the next Town Council meeting on Nov. 14 and the three scheduled informational meetings on Nov. 9 and 10.