Garrison Energy Center noise temporary, spokesman assures area residents

An official at Calpine said the recent rumbling from the plant is temporary. The Garrison Energy Center is expected to go on line soon, perhaps as early as next month. (Delaware State News file/Dave Chambers)

An official at Calpine said the recent rumbling from the plant is temporary. The Garrison Energy Center is expected to go on line soon, perhaps as early as next month. (Delaware State News file/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — “It’s ridiculous,” said Dover resident Larry Buckley.

Those words describe his frustration toward Calpine Corporation’s Garrison Energy Center, which is under construction in Dover’s Garrison Oak Technology Park.

“There was incredible rumbling and noise all weekend,” Mr. Buckley said. “It’s a lot of noise for someone to experience throughout the night.”

Stu Widom, Calpine’s director of government and regulatory affairs, said the unusual noise is from the plant producing steam, essential to the plant once it opens.

“We’re dealing with it the best way we can,” Mr. Widom said. “It’s only temporary and will last for several more days. It’s part of the startup process. We’re hoping to open within the next month or so.”

The Garrison Energy Center is a combined-cycle plant that primarily will fire with natural gas and utilize its exhaust to create additional steam power, producing 309 megawatts of electricity when in peak production.

The plant will create only about one-third as much carbon dioxide as traditional coal power plants and will emit no mercury, virtually no sulfur dioxide and very little nitrogen oxide, according to Mr. Widom.

Mr. Buckley, however, is concerned about the recent rumbling.

“My neighbors had visitors from Ohio and they thought it was a tornado,” he said. “They were in their basement all night long. My son brought his kids down and they were terrified. They refused to get out of the car.”

Mr. Buckley said the ground was shaking, as well.

Mr. Widom said the company received some calls about the noise and they’re doing the best they can to speed up the process.

“The steam has to be purified before we can start making high purified steam. It’s a short term situation, but we’re working our way through it,” he said.

Mr. Buckley said if he was notified about the noise beforehand he wouldn’t have had a problem.

“No one came to us and told us what was going to happen,” he said.

“The noise will keep you awake at night and it’s just ridiculous. My neighbors and I don’t know what’s going on. If they had let us know then I would understand, but we were never notified.”

Mr. Widom, however, said he notified the city and state officials prior to the process to alert them of possible complaints from residents.

“We knew something like this was going to happen,” Mr. Widom said. “We contacted them and gave them a heads-up as to what was to come, so if they had questions from residents as to what was going on they would know the reason why.

“Some people aren’t bothered by it, but for the residents that are, they can contact the city, who will put them in contact with us.”

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