Power plant opponents demonstrate at UD

By Tom Lehman 9:28pm, May 13, 2014 - Updated 9:35pm, May 13, 2014
VIDEO: University of Delaware Professor Michael Chajes and Vice Provost for Research
Opponents of the proposed $1 billion data center project at the University of Delaware's STAR campus staged a protest on Tuesday ahead of the school's board of trustees meeting.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports...

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The crowd of more than 150 students, faculty members and Newark residents expressed their displeasure with a plan to build a data center complex that includes a gas-fired power plant at the former Chrysler plant site. The cogeneration facility would have a capacity of 279 megawatts.

Michael Chajes, a civil engineering professor who sponsored a resolution that was unanimously passed by UD's faculty Senate against the project, was among those who lined the halls outside the Trabant Multipurpose Room.

Chajes, a former dean of the university's College of Engineering, said it was important for opponents of the proposal to demonstrate and attend the meeting. He said there hasn't been open discussion about the issue on campus.

"We really feel it's going to be bad for our reputation, it's going to hurt our credibility in terms of the areas of research we do in sustainability and energy," Chajes said.

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Charles Riordan, UD's Vice Provost for Research, is on a working group that's reviewing the project from the Data Centers LLC. He said the Faculty Senate vote will be considered by the panel.

"The entire working group has reviewed that recommendation and certainly (it will be) taken seriously," Riordan said.

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Riordan also said the university has tasked consultants to look at aspects of the project, such as its environmental impact, and expects to have their reports in the coming weeks. The working group will then issue recommendations to the university's administration about the plan.

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