Timeline: Data center, power plant project from the beginning

A look at now-terminated data center and conjoining power plant project beginning in 2008 when President Patrick Harker purchased 272 acres from Chrysler. This purchase led to the fruition of STAR Campus, now home to businesses such as Bloom Energy.

Residents Against the Power Plant
Students protest the data center, power plant late last semester as the topic made waves among the student body.


The now-canceled power plant and data center project resonated with students during the spring semester following the creation of student group Blue Hens for Clean Air. However, the origins of the project date back to 2008 when President Patrick Harker began molding STAR Campus. Staffers at The Review have put together at timeline of the most significant developments that unfolded over the past year, starting with a $24.5 million purchase from Chrysler.

October 2008: In the midst of a slowing economy, Chrysler announces the closure of the Newark Assembly plant. The plant had been manufacturing cars since 1960.

October 24, 2009: The University purchases STAR campus for $24.5 million. President Patrick Harker describes the purchase as a once in a lifetime opportunity and the next 100 years of development for the university.

January 2012: Negotiations between The Data Centers and the University begin.

June 14, 2012: A formal commitment is made between TDC and 1743 Holdings LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the university.

December 2012: Land lease signed with The Data Centers. The lease provided for further review to confirm that TDC was consistent with the mission of the STAR campus.

June 6, 2013: TDC meets with the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club in hopes of getting their endorsement. The Sierra Club declined to endorse. The Club claims this is the first time news of the power plant became public.

July 2013: Newark Residents against the Power Plant (NRAPP) begins informally. NRAPP will fight against the construction of the power plant for 399 days.

September 3, 2013: First public information forum surrounding TDC’s plans is held, with CEO Gene Kern facing tough questions from residents.

November 2013: City of Newark declined a request from TDC for zoning verification. Verification was denied due to uncertainty surrounding the nature of the power plant

February 2014: On February 7, Michael Bednar, chief sustainability officer of TDC releases a letter claiming that through use of combined heat and power, 9,200 tons of CO2 will be saved each year. Soon after, a university professor disputes the claim and calls the letter “contrived.”

January 2014: City of Newark approves the zoning for the power plant and data center. Newark resident Sherry Hoffman files an appeal.

March 19, 2014: A Board of Adjustment hearing is held, and the city upholds its previous approval of the project zoning.

April 9, 2014: A YouTube video made by Blue Hens for Clean Air circulates among students and Newark residents. The three-minute video calls into question the environmental effects of the power plant. It claims that the university’s carbon dioxide emissions will increase seven-fold.

April 12, 2014 and April 19, 2014: Blue Hens for Clean Air leads protests during the university’s Decision Days for accepted students.

April 16, 2014: President Harker raises eyebrows at Faculty Senate meeting when he says data on the impact of the power plant and data center is not known, and more information on its impact would not be available for two to three months.

April 23, 2014: The university’s Sustainability Task Force hosts a panel discussion as part of the university’s Earth Week. The discussion features leaders from TDC, activists and professors. Vice Provost of Research Charles Riordan announces an administrative-appointed working group will be created to monitor the progress of the project. Riordan says the project has evolved to be more power plant than data center, but says the university remains committed to the project.

April 28, 2014: The TDC project was a major focus of a city council meeting. Councilman Mark Morehead discusses inconsistencies he’s found in the company’s figures. During the public forum more than 30 people speak on the issue; only two of them support the project.

May 5, 2014: The university’s Faculty Senate votes 43-0 (with eight abstentions) in favor of a resolution opposing the construction of The Data Centers project on STAR Campus.

May 27, 2014: NRAPP files a petition with the Superior Court of Delaware to dispute the March 19 Board of Adjustment ruling citing several legal inconsistencies.

July 10, 2014: The university announces it has terminated its lease agreement with TDC, ending their plans to construct the power plant and data center on STAR Campus.


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