Opinion: View power plant’s benefits through a regional lens

By | November 27, 2023

This article help to serve as opinion in understanding view power plant’s benefits through a regional lens.

As more information is becoming available about a proposed 1,200 megawatt electric generation facility in North Bergen, it is important for our community to embrace the strong economic and environmental benefits from a regional perspective – not fall prey to parochial prejudices that simply pit New Jersey and New York against each other.

First, let’s eliminate the hyperbole and be very clear – this proposed site is not located in the heart of the environmentally sensitive Meadows. Its proposed location is in a section of North Bergen zoned for heavy industrial use and on property currently being used for demolition and recycling.

The developers of the project have stated that the new facility would create thousands of construction jobs and provide millions in tax revenue for New Jersey and the Township of North Bergen. The project has been embraced by the municipality that will host the new plant. The electricity generated by the facility would go to 1.2 million residential and business customers in New York City.

It will help reduce costs for electric ratepayers in New York and help displace the operation of older, less efficient fossil fuel plants in the region – including the Indian Point nuclear plant. Overall, the new project is anticipated to result in material reductions of CO2, NOX and SO2 emissions in the New York metropolitan area.

As business owners and citizens who live in the Northeast, these achievements should be embraced and welcomed. We have a project that will bring power to one of our largest cities and economic engines in the nation, help address serious regional environmental concerns with existing power facilities, and provide jobs and significant economic support to a local New Jersey community.

So far, the biggest objection to this proposal has been that the energy will go to New York City. As an organization that represents thousands of businesses and community interests in the greater Meadowlands region – we cannot afford to take such a parochial and counterproductive view. We recognize the fact that our economies – and our environment – are intertwined and do not stop at state borders. In fact, the economic engine of New York City directly contributes to the jobs and financial growth of this entire region – from Pennsylvania and Northern New Jersey, to Upstate New York and Connecticut.

How many New Jersey residents depend on New York City for their livelihood? How many businesses in this area rely on commerce with and through entities in New York City? Particularly for the Meadowlands, our economies and financial interests are inextricably linked – and no one can dispute that.

The hypocrisy of these challenges does not escape us, when we recognize that much of New Jersey’s electric power also comes from other states – such as Pennsylvania and Ohio. It’s also true that New Jersey sends a vast majority of its solid waste to upstate New York and Pennsylvania, and most of its hazardous waste to states throughout the U.S. The parallels with this type of scenario are endless – states cooperate from a regional perspective because of mutual interests.

This is what a regional economy and a united community is all about. This is the way it should work – it’s the synergy of states working together as part of the larger whole. New Jersey isn’t, and can’t simply act as, an island unto itself.

I urge our governing and regulatory bodies, as well as our residents and businesses here in Northern New Jersey, to take a deeper look at the benefits of this new proposal. We should not and cannot miss the bigger picture, out of some misguided competition that would pit one community against another. It’s an unfair measurement of value for any new proposal and it’s unproductive from an economic, environmental and broader community perspective.

Jim Kirkos is President and CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce.

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