Power Plant Stirs Debate Over Indian Head Tech Park

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Natural Gas Plant Proposed for Indian Head; Robinson, WCBA Debate Need for Tech Park

Indian Head, MD - 12/1/2011

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By Andy Marquis

The current coal burning power plant at NSF Indian Head.
The current coal burning power plant at NSF Indian Head.

Constellation Energy has proposed building a 30 megawatt natural gas plant and industrial park on the Naval Support Facility Indian Head base.  The site of the plant would be 35 acres, with an additional 15 acre light-industrial building.  The plant would service NSF Indian Head as well as serve increasing electricity demands from nearby areas in Southern Maryland, Washington and Baltimore.

"The development of the project will involve a long-term government lease of the land and improvements, and Constellation Energy will plan, design, finance, construct and operate the new facilities," Naval Support Activity South Potomac pre.  "In addition, this project will provide the Navy with fair market consideration for the leasehold for the benefit of NSF Indian Head."

Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D: 1st) hailed the news as “good news” and questioned the need for a tech park in Bryan’s Road.

“Any time a coal generated power plant is retired, it is good news,” Robinson said.  “A natural gas power plant will be a great improvement for the air quality of Charles County and thus the health of our citizens.

“The fact that Constellation Energy is proposing to develop an industrial complex inside the gates at the Indian Head base is great for economic development in the county.  It makes me again question the need for the Bryan's Road Tech Park when it is clear that defense contractors would prefer closer proximity to their naval customer.”

Vincent Hungerford, President of the Western Charles Business Association, praised the construction of the new power plant.

“Normally, ‘close’ is specified in the defense contract that the business will be no more than x minutes from the facility,” Hungerford said.  “Normally it’s ten minutes.  The tech park would be a very nice thing for the base.  We’re going to have a (Base Realignment and Closure) coming up in 2015.  The more support activities you have for the base in the area helps enhance the possibility for the base to stay open.”

Hungerford also said that Robinson’s assertion that defense contractors would prefer to be closer to the Indian Head base instead of on the proposed Bryan’s Road complex was “not correct.”

“That’s what we’d call a lease thing where the government needs a facility but does not want to pay for it themselves so you have a private facility build it and lease it to the government,” Hungerford said.  “There’s a dying need for inexpensive electricity at the base to meet their needs.  They have a Goddard facility that’s old, burns coal and needs to be revamped.  They need something that’s cleaner and provides electricity for their functions and to provide electricity for the surrounding areas.

“You don’t want to have too many facilities beside the base because its encroachment and tampers with what they do on the base.  As for the environmentalists, anything you build near Indian Head or Mattawoman Creek, they feel will damage the environment.”

Hungerford said there was already regulation in place to protect the environment and said that development could still be done without damaging the environment.  He also said he is a proponent of protecting the environment.

“I have always been suspect when the name Indian Head was attached to name of the Tech Park when frankly, it isn't in Indian Head,” Robinson responded.  “Contractors who would wish to be located outside of the gates of the naval base have an economically depressed Town Of Indian Head which would be thrilled to welcome such economic development opportunities. When more convenient and logical locations exist, why choose an environmentally sensitive area?”

The proposed tech park would be located on MD-224 in Bryan’s Road next to Maryland Airport.

Contact Andy Marquis at andy.m@thebaynet.com



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