As one of New Jersey’s only nuclear power plants enters its final years in operation, the municipality in which it has operated in for nearly half a century is planning for its future.
The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station has been an institution in the Forked River section of Lacey Township since it began generating electricity in the final month of the 1960s. The facility, located west of Barnegat Bay along Route 9, has had multiple owners over the last 48 years, including JCP&L, GPU, and AmeriGen Energy. Most recently, Oyster Creek has been owned by Illinois-based Exelon Corporation, the parent company of Atlantic City Electric, which announced in 2010 that it would shutter the complex in 2019.
At the time, the company reported that the facility employed nearly 700 people and produced six percent of the Garden State’s electricity. Today, Oyster Creek, which, according to WHYY, is under increased federal oversight following the results of an inspection, reportedly provides 600,000 customers with electricity.
As Oyster Creek comes close to shutting down, there are many concerns by locals about the impact on the local government and the local economy, according to the Asbury Park Press. Although Lacey’s population has been increasing for the last few decades, Township officials are planning ahead as one of the region’s largest employers prepares to close.
According to a legal notice, the Lacey Township Planning Board will host its final visioning session regarding the future of local economic development on Wednesday, September 27th. The meeting, with which be held from 6:00pm to 7:00pm at the Municipal Building on Lacey Road, will discuss “the Township’s effort to achieve Regional Center status within the New Jersey State Plan framework,” as well as design strategies, sustainable development, planning, having a new economic base for the community as the nuclear station closes, and sprawl reduction.
According to the Township of Bridgewater, Regional Center status means that a community is “the focal point for the economic social and cultural activities of an economic region.”
Lacey Township is situated along the Jersey Shore, far from urban employment centers in the region. Although many residents work locally, the community has one of the state’s highest rates of ‘extreme commuters,’ according to the Press of Atlantic City. For instance, Academy Bus service to Manhattan takes an hour and 40 minutes, and Atlantic City, Trenton, and Philadelphia are each over 45 miles away by car.