Vote on Controversial Newark Power Plant Expected This Week

A vote on whether to allow Hess to build a controversial natural gas power plant in Newark will go in front of the city's planning board this week.

The expected vote Thursday will help determine whether to allow the $750 million, 655-megawatt plant to be constructed in the Ironbound neighborhood near Newark Bay at the mouth of the Passaic River.

The plant will bring 400 new jobs during the three years of construction and 26 when the plant becomes operative, according to John Schultz, vice president of Energy Operations. at Hess

"We think this has a huge economic benefit in terms of job creation," he said.

The site, near a police firing range and the Essex County Correctional Facility, is where fuel storage tanks are kept by the company. The nearest private residence is one mile from the area.

But opponent Joseph Della Fave, executive director of the nonprofit Ironbound Community Corporation said the payoff isn't enough.

"Twenty-six full-time, permanent jobs out of a $750 million investment is hardly worth it in our view," Della Fave said.

Other residents said they were concerned about health implications of the plant.

Kim Gaddy, who lives in Newark, said she and her children suffer from asthma. She blames the condition on her environment.

"Just because folks in the City of Newark are people of color, low income, it doesn't mean that our health isn't important," she said.

But Schultz said the proposed plant will use clean technology.

 "We are using the absolute cleanest, most efficient, most modern technology that is available," he said.

If the vote passes the planning board, the issue will then go to full City Council. Opponents promise to continue their fight if the city approves the project.

And an application with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection would also have to be approved before the plant could go on line.