New Milford Power Plant Plans Halted

Monday, November 28, 2016 (Issue #3)
by Ian Boisvert, Managing Editor

.   .   .

Demolition of the deserted Century Brass mill in New Milford is well underway, but there will not be a new tenant for the time being. Mayor David Gronbach stated earlier this month that he had withdrawn the proposal from Panda Power Funds amidst strong community backlash.

In a letter posted on his Facebook page, Gronbach said, “The Panda Proposal to build a gas-fired electric generation plant was a serious one and warranted serious consideration.”

After acknowledging the residents’ anger with the Panda plant project, Gronbach stated in the letter, “given that neither the majority of the community nor its representatives on the Town Council support the power plant, I will be withdrawing the Panda Proposal to develop the Century Brass site.”

While the plant would have offered an estimated 300-500 jobs during construction, many were concerned about the safety of a gas-fired power plant so close to residential areas. Informational forums with Panda Power Corp. often became heated.

“Some information sessions have involved shouting, accusations of collusion, blatant misinformation and scare tactics, threats and intimidation of people, including Town employees,” Gronbach said in his withdrawal.

In this letter, Gronbach also stated that throughout the power plant debate, certain New Milford residents “behaved without civility and decorum,” which included Gronbach accusing an unnamed citizen of calling him “a Nazi” and the use of gendered slurs towards some of Gronbach’s female staff.

The largest concern of the critics of the Panda project was the implied danger associated with the burning of natural gas. Gronbach shot down the stigma stating, “The process of burning natural gas to generate electricity is already being conducted at the Kimberly-Clark plant next to the Pettibone School and athletic fields.”

The Panda project will not move forward in New Milford, however Gronbach is convinced that natural gas powered plants can exist in Connecticut.

“This Proposal will not proceed here, but they are addressing our current and future energy needs,” said Gronbach. “My hope is that they will continue their work of building modern plants that allow coal and oil-fired plants to be decommissioned.”

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