Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Devon Station Is Getting a Makeover




Commuters on Interstate 95 are greeted by a familiar site as they cross the Moses Wheeler Bridge in either direction: the smokestacks of the Devon Station Power plant, which sits on the Milford side of the Housatonic River.

But those familiar landmarks will disappear later this year. City officials and executives with GenConn - the joint venture company created by United Illuminating and NRG Energy to build and operate two new peaking power generators on the site - say that smokestacks and all the steelwork located on the top of the power plant’s main building (the brick building at the center of photo above) and a secondary building (at far right) will be torn down starting in August.
Those two buildings, by the way, no longer house active generating units. NRG shutdown those units during 2004 and the New Jersey-based company currently operates four peaking generation units (shown in the foreground of the photo, near the river’s edge). Peaking generation units are called on to produce electricity only during times of the year in which the demand for power is at its highest.

Work on the two new peaking power generators (shown in a computer illustration at the far left of the above photo) was started earlier this month and will conclude about a year from now, said Anthony Marone, UI’s vice president of client services and president of GenConn.
But removal of the smokestacks and steelworks won’t start for several months because a female peregrine falcon and her babies have taken up residence in a nest on the roof of one of the buildings, he said. Waiting until August will allows the baby falcons to grow and leave the nest on their own, along with their mother.

UI, of course, has a history when it comes to issues with birds.

The New Haven-based utility incurred the wrath of bird lovers far and wide for its ongoing battle with monk parakeets. UI officials remove the nests the birds make on the company’s utility poles, saying they are a fire hazard and cause reliability problems.

The battle over the birds has been so heated that it prompted a 2005 lawsuit by Friends of Animals of Darien against the utility. The group sued UI in the wake of a 2005 eradication effort that involved capturing the monk parakeets and turning them over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be gassed.

That suit was dismissed by a Superior Court judge in May 2008.

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