Sempra Power Plant
In October 1998, Sempra, a giant San Diego conglomerate, submitted applications to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Connecticut Siting Council to build a state of the art power plant (combined cycle technology) that would produce 500 megawatts of electricity, an amount sufficient to power 500,000 homes. The plant would emit 443 tons of pollutants a year. The proposed location in New Milford lay between Candlewood Lake, nearby hills, and the Housatanic River. The nature of this complex, hilly terrain made it a poor environmental choice for the construction of a major power plant.
WEC took the lead in gathering scientific data concerning the plant’s downwind effect on our town and region. It hired prominent environmental consultants who confirmed that the site of the plant, where the smokestacks would sit well below the level of the nearby hills, had to be one of the worst possible sites for such an operation. They also were concerned that the prevailing wind patterns would send a good amount of pollutants through the Aspetuck River Valley towards the New Preston area and Lake Waramaug.
By mid-summer 1998, WEC joined forces with New Milford’s anti-Sempra Group, Power Alert, the Lake Waramaug Task Force and the Lake Waramaug Association. These four entities became intervenors in the Sempra application proceedings, started grass roots efforts in their respective communities, raised the money needed to fight Sempra and waged a vigorous campaign, primarily based on the scientific evidence produced by WEC’s consultants.
The collective effort was well worth it as on December 15, 1999, The Connecticut Siting Council voted unanimously to deny Sempra a permit. In their decision, the Siting Council cited many of the issues brought to light by WEC during the public hearings on the application.