The Sierra Club said May 1 that the operator of the B L England coal-fired power plant, located near Ocean City, N.J., has announced that it will retire both of its coal boilers.
The nearly 50-year-old plant is one of the worst polluters in New Jersey, emitting millions of tons of air pollution, the Sierra Club said. While the owners of the plant have not yet laid out a timeline for transitioning the plant off of coal, B L England was required to meet state air pollution limits by May 1 and failed to do so, the club added.
“We applaud the decision to end coal fired power at B L England,” said Christine Guhl, Sierra Club field organizer. “The plant produces millions of tons of pollution every year and is contributing to the health woes of many in South Jersey. While we’re glad that the plant has decided to move beyond coal, natural gas isn’t a long term answer to New Jersey’s energy needs. We are ready for, and deserve, a clean energy future.”
Ocean City recently passed a municipal resolution that B L England be given no further extensions of time to comply with air pollution limits, the club noted. Further, nearly 6,000 South Jersey residents signed a petition calling on Gov. Chris Christie to retire the plant. Those petitions were delivered today, World Asthma Day, at the state house in Trenton.
Until the switch away from coal is made, the Sierra Club said it will still seek state Department of Environmental Protection enforcement of air quality standards and insist that fines for air pollution violations be levied.
A May 1 story by the Press of Atlantic City said that that plant will be converted from coal and oil to natural gas under an agreement its owners are finalizing with the state to reduce the plant’s emissions. Officials said the conversion will dramatically decrease the amount of air pollutants from the plant.
The state Department of Environmental Protection originally directed the plant’s owners to make upgrades to its outdated coal-fired units by May 1, but the new plan will take the place of that original agreement once it is completed, the report said. “This will be a very clean-operating unit, with one-tenth the emissions of the current plant,” said Ed Choromanski, director of the DEP Division of Air and Hazardous Materials Compliance and Enforcement, as quoted in the story.
Atlantic City Electric owned the plant until 2007, when it sold the property to RC Cape May Holdings, an affiliate of Rockland Capital Energy Investments, the story noted.