Keys Energy Center looks to open next year
A natural gas-fired, combined cycle power plant in Brandywine, the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) Keys Energy Center, is expected to open in May of 2018.
Of initial local resistance to the plant, Project Director Andrew Caplinger stressed the need for electricity.
“The tough thing is you have to have electricity. Some people don’t like nuclear power; some people don’t like fossil fuels plants. You know, everybody thinks you can get all of your power from wind and solar, and you wish you could, but the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. So you got to have power when you don’t have any sun and when you don’t have any wind,” Caplinger noted.
Since construction began in 2015, the plant has made attempts to engage with the community and its leaders. In addition to a quarterly newsletter released to surrounding constituents to keep them informed, the project directors meet with the Prince George’s County Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement monthly, and remain in contact with county delegates.
“We met with Del. Susie Proctor, she’s been on site, Del. [Michael] Jackson’s been on site, because this is their constituents in the area,” Caplinger said. “When we first got going, especially Del. Proctor, because she knows everybody, she would get a phone call, and everybody thought that everything that happened in this area was because of our plant. She would then call us and we would get back to her right away, usually within an hour, to find out if it was something we did or not, and usually it was not. We’ve got a good working relationship with them; we try to keep them updated.”
It is projected the electrical output from the plant will provide service for approximately 500,000 homes in the area and will be a replacement for current coal-fired power plants.
“The emissions footprint on the plant is very small, on the waterside it’s pretty much nothing compared to most other plants of any technology. Which is a new way of doing things,” said David Hinchey, the environmental permitting manager.
Amongst the green features of the plant are various emission control technologies, including: a combined combustor that will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, a oxidation catalyst to reduce carbon monoxide emissions, and air-cooled condensers to continuously recycle water for cooling purposes.
“By today’s standard when you go to build a new plant, there’s a lot of environmental regulations you need to meet,” Caplinger said. “This plant is very unique, this plant has an additional layer of catalyst that’s a CO catalyst that tries to take the carbon dioxide out of the emissions.”
The energy center has also committed to working with the local community by spending $20 million locally, hiring from the area for at least 20 percent of the workforce during construction, and perhaps most notably, educating eight to 12 recently graduated high school students.
Of the Energy Technologies Training Program, Caplinger pointed out “It’s kind of like an internship. But this is more set up to be an educational program.”
The program, which took in four recent high school graduates from Prince George’s County schools this year and plans to recruit eight students next year, trains students to pass the POSS/MASS, a test designed to qualify individuals for power plant maintenance and power operator selection. The goal of the program is to give students the skills to work in the power plant industry.
“These plants are being built ever ywhere,” Caplinger said. “Even if they don’t work for us, you know what a great thing if you can take four, eight, 12 kids who just graduated from high school, who just didn’t have the ability to go to college, or maybe didn’t have the right career guidance to go to college, or who maybe just didn’t have the interest to go to college, to get them into an industry where they can get into a nice career by working in the power industr y.”