Keys En­ergy Cen­ter looks to open next year

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By YASMINE ASKARI yaskari@somd­

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.”

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