The application for the air permit for the proposed data center’s power plant in Middletown has been put on hold at the request of the project owner, according to the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).
In the past, project officials said the power plant, which requires the air permit, is necessary to keep the data center reliable. As proposed, the power plant would only run if there’s a power outage, for testing, or if it’s economically feasible to sell the electricity.
Earlier this year, the project owner, Cirrus Delaware, requested that the application for the air permit be put on hold, said DNREC spokesman Michael Globetti.
“There is no expiration on an air permit application submitted to DNREC, but if anything changes while the application is on hold, the applicant must supplement the information in what was originally submitted,” Globetti said in an email.
As for why Cirrus put the application on hold, Globetti referred that question to Cirrus. Mark Dunkle, an attorney who represents Cirrus, said on Monday in an email, “No comment at this time."
The data center, formally called the Middletown Technology Center, has been opposed by residents because of the emissions from the proposed plant. In August of 2016, DNREC held a workshop on the permit application, which, so far, hasn’t been granted by DNREC.
At the time of the workshop, the data center was proposed to be 228,000-square-feet, located at Auto Park, between Amazon and Home Depot, off of U.S. 301 in Middletown. The power plant, part of the same complex, would consist of five 10 megawatt and five 2.5-megawatt natural gas fired generators.
At a recent council meeting, Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner said the data center is “not dead.” He recently met with the project’s developer, Dennis Silicato, on the issue and they will be meeting with three interested parties, who don’t want their names divulged, during this month to locate in the data center.
“So, everything is still moving forward…We are waiting on the air permit once it’s commitment to go forward. Beyond that, it’s just trying to find candidates to be able to go into the data center,” Branner said.
It was back in April 2015 when the data center plans were presented to council as a concept plan and immediately it was opposed by the Cochran family whose residence is closest to the proposed complex.
As time went on, the opposition grew. In August of 2015, council unanimously approved the plan for the data center and the power plant, despite a resident petition with 513 signatures and an online petition of 340 names requesting more information.
Since then, residents have picketed at Cochran Square and formed a group called “No Middletown Power Plant.” They attended the August 2016 workshop opposing the plant because of the emissions.