Residents get a chance to tour Rockland power plant
The Derrick, 10/19/01, By MATT BOYLE

A special thank you goes out to The Derrick for allowing this story to be posted

Photo by Stephen West -- Local residents learn about the Rockland Township power plant Thursday afternoon during an open house.

The Handsome Lake power plant in Rockland Township opened its doors to residents Thursday with a guided tour of the facility. 

Don Shilobod, the only operator of the 250-megawatt facility, conducted the tour, which began in the plant's control room. From the control room, Shilobod explained that almost every function of the plant's workings can be monitored and adjusted as needed. 

Each of the facility's five generators can be checked on its own computer screen with a graphic display that provides information on the status of valves, water meters, the water injection system, gas flow, temperature and pressure. If something goes wrong, an alarm sounds in the control room indicating where the trouble is. The operator must go outside and physically check to see what is wrong. 
As a peak facility, the plant will only operate when energy demands are at their greatest. Shilobod said the facility only ran for six hours this October and has not run since. 

Jack Walker, president of Save Our Sanctuary (SOS), which opposed the construction of the plant, said the water level in his well has already dropped 12 feet.  "I don't want to lose my water," Walker said. "If I lose that water, my house is worth nothing." 

Bonnie Johansen, project manager for the facility, said Handsome Lake is doing what it can to alleviate the drain on local water wells. "If there is a problem, we're going to see it through," Johansen said. 
Shilobod said the plant has yet to install a water flow meter to record the amount of water the facility uses. The plant uses water to purify nitrogen oxide emissions, and the water is stored in two 500,000-gallon tanks and one 100,000-gallon capacity insulated tank. When running, the plant will use water continuously. 

SOS has hired a hydrologist to examine the water issue and report any possible solutions to the group. Handsome Lake hired its own inspector. "(Handsome Lake) is holding true to their word by investigating the water issue," Walker said. 

"We want to work with the issues and solve them together," Johansen reiterated. 

An additional device has been installed to further reduce noise pollution from the plant. That was another point of contention SOS has voiced. 

Handsome Lake hired a professional noise surveyor to see if sound emissions from the facility might be in violation, but the facility checked out OK.