MIDDLETOWN — A plan to replace two aging turbines on a Middletown natural gas-fired power plant will wait at least another year after the project failed to secure funding through the regional energy market this week.
Princeton-based NRG’s plans to replace two gas-fired turbines built in 1958 and 1964 at its power plant on the Connecticut River in south Middletown hinged on the project being selected through a regional market meant to secure a reliable power supply three years in advance.
ISO-New England held its forward capacity auction on Monday and released cumulative results Thursday, which did not include individual projects selected. NRG spokesman Dave Schrader confirmed to CT Examiner that the Middletown project was not selected in the auction. The spokesman told CT Examiner on Thursday that the company still intends to move forward with the project if it clears the regional auction at a later date.
An attorney representing NRG told the Middletown Common Council in 2019 that the project hinged on NRG successfully clearing the auction. The project failed to clear the auction in 2019 and 2020, as well.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is planning to hold a public informational hearing at 3 p.m. on March 3 for NRG’s application for permits to build a new turbine to replace the aging ones.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, the Middletown Common Council will hold a special meeting to discuss the project proposal, with presentations from NRG and John Hall, executive director of the Jonah Center for Earth & Art, who is opposed to the project. Hall is asking the council and Mayor Ben Florsheim to oppose the project and cancel a tax stabilization agreement the city made with NRG in 2019.
The ISO-New England forward capacity auction allows power generators to sell the promise of electric generating capacity three years in advance – so projects that clear the auction in 2021 will be expected to provide power in 2024. The system is meant to ensure adequate power supplies for the region, and provides generators with funding and lead time to build their projects.
This year — the 15th auction — 34,621 megawatts worth of projects were selected, exceeding the capacity target ISO set for 2024-2025 by over 1,000 MW, according to a news release from ISO-New England. 40,692 MW of energy resources had qualified to participate in the auction.
The clearing price of the auction for the “capacity zone,” which includes all of Connecticut and western Massachusetts, was $2.61 per kilowatt month – higher than the $2 price it cleared at last year, but lower than in previous years.
This story was updated after our initial reporting to include a statement that NRG still intends to move forward with the project if it clears the regional auction in the future.