On Monday, October 22, 2012 Mayor Santos joined Rich Lopriore, President of PSEG Fossil, at the dedication ceremony for PSEG’s addition of six peaking units at the South Kearny Generating Station. The new natural gas-fired units are capable of producing over 270 net megawatts of power.
Remarks of Mayor Alberto G. Santos:
Good afternoon. We are here today with Rich Lopriore, President of PSEG Fossil, Council Members McCurrie and Doyle, Assemblyman Vincent Prieto and trade union representatives to dedicate PSEG’s new peaker power plant units in Kearny. Let me begin by recognizing the role of PSEG in our State and community. As one of the 10 largest electric companies in the United States, PSEG employs over 10,000 individuals, including over 400 who live here in Hudson County. Its largest subsidiary, PSE&G, is the largest provider of gas and electric service in New Jersey, serving over 2,200,000 electric customers, which includes almost 300,000 accounts here in Hudson County. PSEG has been, and continues to serve as an engine of our region’s economy. We owe you a debt of gratitude for your investments and contributions in our State and County.
This new power plant consists of six powerful natural gas-fired engines, which will provide over 270 megawatts of power during periods of high demand. I am told that these engines use the most fuel-efficient gas turbine in its size class and they will quickly fire up, in just 10 minutes, when energy demand peaks. This will help meet our region’s growing demand for electricity and improve reliability of the transmission system.
At a cost of over $255 million, the Kearny peaking units are an investment in our region’s economic future – ample and reliable power fuels all facets of our economy, from transportation, to manufacturing, to communication and networking infrastructure; it also affects every aspect of life, from health to education to how we live our daily lives.
We stand here in the shadow of the original Kearny Generating Station which was dedicated in 1926 as a coal-fired plant. At the time, it was the largest of the company’s generating plants with a capacity of 324,500 kilowatts and a 60-day coal supply that was stored on sight. About a year ago, Roland Boggio of PSEG provided the Town of Kearny an enlarged photograph from that dedication day in 1926. In it, PSEG founder Thomas N. McCarter is flanked on his right by New Jersey Governor A. Harry Moore and on his left by Thomas A. Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park.
At that moment, captured in that photograph, Edison was admiring the South Kearny power plant as he was entering the final years of a remarkable life – a life which included hundreds of patents that solved numerous problems in the generation, distribution and metering of electricity. Edison developed a complete system of electric generation and distribution that would turn his light bulb into a commercially efficient and economical business. First in London and then in lower Manhattan in 1881, his method was to supply electricity from a central station to a surrounding district. This became the model for electrification of cities and towns across the United States, including here in Kearny at this power plant, and led to the industrialization and urbanization of our country and county.
Thomas Edison gave a very short but indelible speech in 1908 that crystalized the tremendous impact of his accomplishments. He said,
Those of us who began our life labors at the operative speed fifty years ago have been permitted to see and assist in the whole modern industrial development of electricity. Since the remarkable experiments of Morse in 1844 and the unsuccessful efforts of Fields in 1858, there have come with an incredible rapidity one electrical art after another so that in practically every respect civilization has been revolutionized.
It is still too early to stand outside these events and pronounce final judgment on their lasting value. But, we may surely entertain the belief that the last half of the 19th century was as distinct in its electrical inventions [and the results] as the first half was in relation to speed.
When I look around at the resources of the electrical field today, I feel that I would be glad to begin again my work as an electrician and inventor. And we bumpkins can only urge upon successors, the young followers of Franklin and Calvin to realize the measure of their opportunities and to rise to the height of their responsibilities in this day of electricity.
Today, over a century after Edison delivered those remarks, and 86 years after he helped dedicate the first Kearny Generating Station, we still cannot pronounce final judgment on electricity as it continues to revolutionize civilization. From the industrial revolution in the 20th century to the current digital revolution where we all share and transmit tremendous and growing amounts of data, in faster and faster speeds, through battery-powered mobile phones and computer tablets and laptops, using data stored in electricity-powered complex networks that we call “the cloud,” electricity is continuing to revolutionize civilization by changing how we work, learn, and live, affecting all aspects of daily life. The “operative speed” of 2012 is much faster than just 10 years ago, and is light years from the day in 1926 when Edison stood here with Thomas McCarter in Kearny.
In Edison’s short speech, in addition to emphasizing the opportunities and advancements enabled by electricity, he urged his successors to “rise to the height of their responsibilities.” That responsibility includes stewardship of our environment which has been degraded tremendously over the past century, including sites in South Kearny that were polluted by industries that have long since closed. Each of us has an obligation to reduce pollution and all countries need to address the very real problem of climate change.
Here at this facility, from the original coal-powered units in the 1920s, to the conversion to oil-burning units in the 1950s, to the current “combined cycle” technology where natural gas-fired turbines generate power and its exhaust makes steam that powers a second turbine, PSEG is meeting that heightened responsibility. At this facility, nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by 90% through state-of-the-art technology that combines combustion turbine water injection and selective catalytic reduction systems.
In addition, we in New Jersey are proud that PSEG has also been a leader in development of renewable energy. It is second in the nation in solar energy with an aggressive program of installing panels on utility poles, building solar farms and leasing rooftops for panels. PSEG is also a national leader in promoting energy efficiency programs, such as Direct Install for Small Business, which has provided energy efficiency upgrades for small businesses in Urban Enterprise Zones, including Kearny’s own UEZ.
Mr. Lopriore, guests, I think Edison would be impressed if he were with us today. I would like to congratulate PSEG not just on the opening of this new facility, but also for advancing the work and vision of Thomas Edison. Thank you.