January 31, 2023

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LOGAN TOWNSHIP, NJ (AP) — A former coal-fired power plant in New Jersey imploded Friday, and its owners announced plans for a new $1 billion project at the site that will use batteries to generate electricity from clean energy sources to save, including wind and sun.

The move came as New Jersey aggressively championed clean energy adoption, including its push to become the East Coast leader in offshore wind power.

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Starwood Energy demolished the former Logan power plant while the head of New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities pushed a ceremonial button; The actual explosives used in the structure crash were set off by a licensed demolition contractor.

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Logan is one of two former coal-fired power plants the company closed and demolished in March under an agreement with the state and a local utility. The other is the former Chambers thermal power station at Carneys Point, which has yet to be dismantled.

They were the last two coal-fired power plants to operate in the state until they closed three months ago, and both will house battery storage projects, said Himanshu Saxena, CEO of Starwood, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based private equity investment firm specializing in energy infrastructure projects .

“This is the end of coal in this state,” Saxena said.

The closures are part of the latest wave of coal-fired power plants to be shut down as states seek to combat climate change by demanding more zero-carbon sources of electricity.

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“Wind doesn’t always blow; Solar doesn’t always shine,” he said. “We need systems in which the energy can be stored. You have to build battery storage products.”

Located on the banks of the Delaware River in the southern New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, the facility began operations in 1994.

Just before 11 a.m. Friday, an emergency siren sounded, indicating the impending detonation of explosives strategically placed at the base of the facility’s smokestack and in a larger nearby building.

A series of loud explosions erupted and concussive blast waves emanated from the site as the structures began to crumble into a heap of smoke and dust.

Saxena said he has a long history with power generation and environmental concerns.

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“I worked at a coal-fired power plant in India; there were no scrubbers,” he said, referring to emission control systems. “You went in with a white shirt and came out with a black shirt.”

Environmental and public interest groups, including the Sierra Club, have been urging Atlantic City Electric to end an agreement that held tariffpayers to above-market electricity rates that the Sierra Club cited and to halt operations at the two plants.

“More utilities need to recognize the changing landscape and that they have a responsibility to reduce carbon pollution,” said Ramon Cruz, national president of the Sierra Club, adding he hopes the deal will be a model for other states and companies will.

Atlantic City Electric estimates that canceling the agreement will save taxpayers $30 million through 2024.

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Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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