Monday, September 26, 2011

Power Plant Water Hurdles Add Up In Aquaria Sale Attempt

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—The general manager for Aquaria Water LLC, the company that owns and operates a desalination plant in North Dighton said selling much needed water for a proposed 350-megawatt natural gas power plant in Brockton is far from a done deal.
Alfredo Andres, general manager for Aquaria Water, said in a telephone interview if Advanced Power-Brockton Power wants to buy water from the desalination plant, there are a whole host of regulatory hurdles it must overcome before his company can supply the 1.7 million gallons a day the proposed 350-megawatt power plant needs to cool its turbines.
“Whenever we have met with Advanced Power we have told them that if Brockton doesn’t want the project it is going to be very difficult for them,” Andres said.
He said Advanced Power contacted them last about 6 months ago and expressed interest in buying water for the power plant.
Andres said in a letter to Advanced Power, Aquaria outlined numerous contingencies and regulatory hurdles at the state and local level Advanced Power would have to overcome before Aquaria can provide the water.
Andres said he has not been contacted by or met with Advanced Power officials in months, and not since last Thursday, when the power plant company suffered a major blow when the state Energy Facilities Siting Board rejected Advanced Power's request to use city drinking water to cool the plant’s turbines--a pivotal issue in the construction of the natural gas plant.
Last Thursday following the hearing with the Siting Board, Advanced Power stated it had a letter of intent from Aquaria to purchase water.
Andres said that is not correct—entirely. “I can’t just say no to potential clients, but there are numerous contingencies,” he said.
Andres said Advanced Power's statement has caused a lot confusion that needs to be clarified.
He said Aquaria is drafting a letter to Mayor Linda Balzotti and Brockton City Council to reiterate the obstacles Advanced Power faces in order to buy water from Aquaria.
The first step Advanced Power has to take, Andres said, is to gain a designation from the state Department of Public Utilities as a wholesaler of water.
“We can’t just sell to anyone—a restaurant or other businesses,” Andres said. “They have to be a wholesaler,” Andres said.
Another critical issue facing Advanced Power, Andres said, is piping the water from the North Dighton plant to Advanced Power’s site on Oak Hill Way on the Brockton-West Bridgewater border.
Andres said it is very unlikely Brockton City Council or other city boards will approve permits for Advanced Power to tie to the desalination plant's pipe to the city.
Advanced Power’s next option would be to request a dedicated tie-in with West Bridgewater--not an easy process because West Bridgewater residents and some officials are opposed to the power plant.
Andres said gaining the wholesaler designation and possibly connecting to West Bridgewater’s pipeline could take years to accomplish if it all.
If Advanced Power can become a wholesaler and can convince West Bridgewater, or another community or communities connected to the desalination plant's 17 miles of pipes to allow them a route to Brockton, then Aquaria would have no choice but sell Advanced Power the water.
However, Andres said, Advanced Power will have a long and difficult time to get there.
“We can’t say no if they can meet the contingencies,” Andres said. “It is not my job to decide whether this is a good project for Brockton or not, but it will be very, very difficult for Advanced Power to get this if Brockton doesn’t want it,” he said.

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