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New buyer looks at other uses for shuttered Baltimore County coal plant

A Baltimore County coal power plant that closed in 2018 and was slated to reopen as a natural gas-fired generator could be redeveloped instead into a renewable energy provider, a data center or housing, the facility’s new owner said.

Forsite Development said it bought the C.P. Crane plant in Bowleys Quarters from Chicago-based Middle River Power. It did not disclose the terms of the sale. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Forsite specializes in redeveloping industrial properties.

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The company said it plans to explore possible new uses for the 153-acre Crane facility as it decommissions and demolishes the plant over the next 14 months. Those uses could include solar power generation and battery storage, something the company is exploring at half a dozen other former coal plants around the country, Forsite said.

The Crane plant’s previous owner had planned to convert it to natural gas power, but faced criticism from neighborhood and environmental groups that opposed any continued burning of fossil fuels at the site that faces a Chesapeake Bay creek. In December, the owner asked state energy regulators for permission to delay the start of construction from January 2021 to July 2022.

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A spokesperson for Middle River Power could not be reached for comment.

The Crane plant, named for a former Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. president, opened in 1961 as Baltimore’s suburbs grew and demand for baseload power did, too. BGE built and owned the plant until the utility’s parent company, Exelon, sold it in 2012; Middle River Power and New York private equity firm Avenue Capital Group bought it in 2016.

The plant’s coal units were retired in June 2018 under a settlement agreement with the Maryland Department of the Environment, which said the facility was not properly testing its emissions and exceeded limits for particulate matter, hydrogen chloride and carbon monoxide.

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