Power Plant for Jail Could Save Millions
Bergen County officials say they will
save millions in energy costs by building a small power
plant for the county jail.
The natural-gas generator would
provide electricity to the recently expanded 1,100-bed
jail on River Street in Hackensack, and the heat it
creates would be used to warm the jail - a process known
"In essence, the engine will produce
free heating," said Dominick Aiello, president of Metro
Energy Solutions, the county's consultant on the
Freeholders approved a contract last
week with Atlantic City-based DCO Energy LLC, which will
build and maintain the plant. The freeholders next month
will consider borrowing $2.9 million to fund the plant,
which would save an estimated $5.8 million during the
next 25 years, County Administrator Timothy J. Dacey
Cogeneration plants have become
increasingly popular with government officials looking
to offset rising gas and heating costs.
Essex County included a cogeneration
plant at its new jail. Wayne is considering a $9.89
million plant to power its Township Hall, two schools,
and the schools administration building.
And officials at the Bergen County
Improvement Authority, which oversees Bergen Regional
Medical Center in Paramus, are considering a similar
plant at the county-owned hospital. Aiello is consulting
the improvement authority on that project, and DCO
Energy is in line to get that contract, said the
authority's executive director, Edward H. Hynes.
The county wants to build a plant big
enough to serve the hospital and a proposed juvenile
detention center that would be built next to the
hospital; cost and savings estimates were not yet
Democrats and Republicans on the
freeholder board said they will support the jail plant
project if it saves money.
But Republican Sheriff Joel Trella,
who runs the jail, questioned the county
administration's savings claims.
"The sheriff is extremely skeptical
about the program," said spokesman Thom Ammirato. "It
will probably increase overtime and manpower costs,
because you're going to have to have people assigned to
watch over the workmen."
Ammirato said backup generators at
the jail already provide a safety net for the county.
If the freeholders approve the
funding next month, the county will sign the contract
with DCO Energy around the same time, an administration
spokesman said. The plant could be running by May 2005.
The improvement authority hopes to be
in a position to move ahead on its project within the
next few months, Hynes said.