The Township Committee has awarded a contract to Birdsall Engineering, a firm that is currently under investigation by the state, for a feasibility study for a new power generation facility to be built in Lacey upon Oyster Creek’s closure in 2019.
State investigators executed a search warrant at the offices of Birdsall Services Group in Wall on Wednesday, May 3, the Star Ledger reported. The exact reason for the investigation is currently unknown.
Mayor Mark Dykoff was unaware of the state’s investigation until after the township awarded the contract, he said. The contract was awarded on Thursday, May 17, with a unanimous vote.
“I haven’t seen the particulars,” Dykoff said of the investigation on Monday. “Some records have been seized. It doesn’t concern me.”
Birdsall will be performing a feasibility study for $22,500. The study will provide an assessment of existing conditions, development constraints and permitting requirements at 798 South Main St., which is currently owned by JCP&L.
The township solicits RFP's (requests for proposals) for special project engineers in the beginning of each year. The engineers are then appointed as needed, Township Administrator Veronica Laureigh said.
“Birdsall was selected for their expertise in the area of renewable energy and their familiarity with the power plant properties,” she said.
The firm submitted a proposal on April 18, Laureigh said.
“We’re trying to make this property as attractive as we can by putting our best foot forward,” Committeeman Dave Most said. “By hiring Birdsall, who has an energy team, and they do a lot of work in energy so they’re very good at it. They have the expertise to handle that kind of work.”
A new generation facility is just a conceptual plan right now, Most said.
“We have to get all the different parties, the stakeholders, involved to make sure we have no big obstacles to overcome,” he said. “I’m sure we’re going to have some obstacles but we’re trying to present a power plant when Oyster Creek closes in 2019.”
The closing of Oyster Creek will create a “serious gap” as far as base load generation and economically, he said.
“That’s why we’re investing in this for the future because this will mean a lot to Lacey Township,” Most said.
Dykoff said the new facility could be a gas-powered plant but the decision will be up to the experts.
“That’s the idea of the feasibility study,” he said. “The engineers will determine what would be the best use or what would be the best fit.”
Last week, Dykoff met with Congressman Jon Runyan along with the mayors of Waretown and Barnegat with regards to the feasibility study and a new plant.
“Waretown and Barnegat do support moving forward in Lacey Township,” Dykoff said. “It helps the surrounding towns.”
The group also discussed supporting manufacturing around any new power plant, he said.
Dykoff asked if the state would reimburse the township for expended funds. The township will pay for the study out of the general engineering line item. The committee has discussed using bond anticipation notes in the future. The state is going to look into reimbursing Lacey through the Economic Development Authority, he said.
“The catch phrase you’ve been hearing for a few years is shovel-ready projects,” Dykoff said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get this project as far along as possible to entice private investors who want to build something there.”
The township also recently passed for a new power generation facility to replace Oyster Creek.
The freeholders will be voting on a resolution of support this evening.