Renovo power plant plans move forward

Ground contamination larger than thought

RENOVO — Plans are moving forward on construction of an $800 million, natural gas fired electric power station here.

Renovo Council this week heard an update on the plans by Bechtel Development Corp. and Renovo Energy Center  (REC) LLC’s massive investment.

Thomas D. Emero, director of Innovative Power Solutions, a consultant to Renovo Energy, and project coordinator, spoke via conference call to council and repeated numerous times that Bechtel  is “close to going to financing” for the plant slated for the abandoned Renovo railyard.

Emero said that his company has spent nearly $500,000 on environmental and ground testing at the site along the railroad tracks and those results revealed “more significant and wider spread contamination” than previously anticipated.

However, he was quick to point out that the site is “still something that we can work with.”

And, he said demolition or construction, which will likely take place simultaneously, is aggressively being planned to start this coming fall, with 2018 winter or early spring as backup dates.

Emero said the amount of ground contamination at the former railroad yard will require extra planning and excavation.

He offered one hypothetical example of having to be sure new soil is used underneath a parking area as a viable solution.

All major permits have been filed, including joint state Department of Environmental Protection-U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paperwork that includes the examination of impacts to wetlands and endangered species.

Emero said he is still awaiting a first draft of air permits, expected in March.

The cost to wire the plant – that is, providing electrical interconnect lines to the grid – are higher than expected, he said.

While all the assessments on the interconnect are not complete, Emero said it could result in Renovo Energy deciding to go with a one or two, 475-megawatt turbine setup.

As far as zoning goes, council re-wrote its noise ordinance that Emero said “is something that the plant can live with, and is also good for the environment of Renovo.”

The cell tower that sits on the site will need to be moved, Emero said, noting that at least one other option is already being studied.

In other business, council is considering making Huron Avenue a 10-minute-parking-only street to help with snow removal. Residents not moving their vehicles during snow accumulations, particularly near the Renovo Post Office, are not allowing PennDOT to properly plow snow.

The change in parking on Huron Avenue seems to have enough council support,  but no vote was taken as one final plea is being planned with residents that will not move their vehicles.

Council also announced that bids for the razing of condemned properties on 5th and Ontario Avenue will be opened at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, with the winning bid to be announced Feb. 20.

Also this week, council voted to rescind an offer made to Keifer Bathgate for employment as a borough police officer.

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