Seaford still pondering what to do with power plant along the river

By Lynn R. Parks

Within a few days, work will begin to clean out the Seaford power plant. The Seaford City Council Tuesday night agreed to hire NCM Demolition and Remediation in Salisbury to remove all of the plant's equipment.

There will be no cost to the city. For payment, NCM will keep most of the equipment, metal and cable that its workers remove. The one exclusion will be the plant's mediumvoltage switchgear, the mechanism that is used to control and protect the electrical equipment. The city is going to try to sell it, at a price of $85,000.

Lance Fisher with NCM told the members of the city council that he expects the cleanout to take from four to six months. At the end of the work, assistant city manager Charles Anderson said, the 11,000square foot plant will be "broom clean," empty and ready for whatever comes next.

"I think that the city will want to retain ownership," Anderson said. There are some environmental problems on the property that will require consultation with the state, he added. As for the building's future, "we will just have to see what's available," Anderson said. "It is our plan to repurpose it somehow."

The downtown plant, which sits on the Nanticoke River on the west side of the drawbridge, was built in 1939 to generate power for the city. But it has not done that since the mid 1970s, when the city started buying all of its power from Delmarva Power and Light.

The 7megawatt plant, which has six generators, was mothballed for the first time then and remained inactive, firing up just once a month to make sure the generators were working, until 1985. At that time, the city entered into an agreement with Conectiv (now Delmarva Power and Light) to produce power at peak times. Conectiv paid the city for the power that it generated.

"Peak shaving" ended in January 2004, when the city's contract with Conectiv ended. The city's new power supplier, Constellation, was not interested in peak shaving. So the city went into the electric sales business, firing up the generators when the price of electricity spiked high enough for the plant to make a profit.

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