UPPER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Vacationers traveling to the New Jersey beach resorts of Ocean City and Cape May have long admired the towering chimney of the BL England Generating Station as they drive past it on the Garden State Parkway.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The 463-foot-tall (141.1 m) stack served as a local landmark and even a weather indicator for some residents, who observed it from outside to determine the direction and speed of emissions flowing from its top, helping them decide what to wear for the day.
However, the power plant, which combusted coal and oil for many years, ceased operations in May 2019 as a result of the global shift away from fossil fuel consumption.
The smokestack, the last significant remaining structure of the facility, was demolished on Thursday morning using 350 pounds of explosives strategically positioned by a demolition company, recognized in the area for demolishing the former Trump Plaza casino in nearby Atlantic City in 2021.
At 10 a.m., a loud explosion was heard as a crowd of over 100 spectators observed from a nearby pier, with additional onlookers aboard at least 50 boats moored at a safe distance in the bay. The chimney rapidly leaned away from the water and collapsed in a cloud of dust.
“Everything went precisely as planned and as expected,” stated Chad Parks, a spokesperson for the property’s owner, Beasley Point Development Group, a New York firm that specializes in revitalizing “distressed” heavy industrial sites.
Two smaller structures, a gypsum silo and a portion of the former power plant, will be demolished using heavy equipment situated on the ground.
The demolition paves the way for the waterfront site on Great Egg Harbor Bay to fulfill its next role in supplying energy to New Jersey residents: serving as a connection point for the state’s numerous planned offshore wind farms. Additionally, the site will be developed as a mixed-use complex encompassing a hotel, marina, restaurants, shops, and residential units.
Due to the power plant’s existing connections to the electric grid, a significant amount of infrastructure to integrate offshore wind power into the system already existed in a nearby substation, making it a logical choice for bringing offshore wind energy to shore.
A cable from the initial wind farm, to be constructed by energy company Ørsted, will come ashore at a beach in Ocean City, travel underground along a roadway, and then reenter the Gulf waters before ultimately connecting to the grid at the former BL England site.
This route, as well as the project’s very existence, has generated substantial opposition from Ocean City and other Jersey Shore communities. Residents are contesting the project both in court and in the court of public opinion.
The power plant commenced operations in 1961. A cooling tower at the site was demolished in September 2022, and a boiler was demolished in April.
Follow Wayne Parry on X, formerly known as Twitter, at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC
Wayne Perry, The Associated Press