Is there a real need for a Natural Gas Power Plant?

Greenidge (coal-fired) Power Plant outside of Dresden, New York (Town of Torrey, Yates County) closed in 2011. At one time it was the highest assessed property in Yates County. question-mark-manIt was almost demolished, but new owners, Connecticut  based Atlas Holdings, has retooled the power plant to start with  bio-mass and solar power, and then using of  natural gas to generate power for the region.

The DEC is requesting comments about their proposal. The following letter explains why the author is questioning the need to re-open Greenidge,  It was written by the Chair of the Committee to Protect the Finger Lakes.

The following articles from the Penn Yan Chronicle Express  about the re-opening of Greenidge includes reports of the local governments’ enthusiasm to have the Power Plant reopen.

Background Articles:   Wi­­ll Greenidge plant reopen?

Greenidge plant moves closer to restart in Torrey

Greenidge generation plant poised for restart this fall

8-16-15 Letter to the Editor,

Reopening of the Dresden- Greenidge Power plant

NY State has supported not drilling for natural gas using hydrofracking techniques.  Professors at Cornell University have  made studies finding that natural gas pollutes as much as coal if you take into account the  process of drilling for gas.  The Dresden plant has been closed  since 2011 and  I have heard no comments from people not having electricity available to them because of the closure.  NY State is focusing on renewable energy via its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) program. Consistent with REV program there is a strong movement in the Finger Lakes  by individuals, and companies to use solar to generate electricity. My wife and I have had solar on our home for 7 years.  Many people we know have also installed solar.   This creates less demand on the power plants.

The news articles also state that the Greenidge plant will use biomass  for a while and install some solar and  then focus exclusively on natural gas. This is a public relations effort to get the community and elected officials to agree that they are working to be environmentally holistic.  Yet their final focus is using natural gas.

The need for electricity generated by a new plant is going down. A new plant  might help during peak energy use periods,  but  how many hours a week  of generation does that address? If any.  According to published information the company has invested 45 million of which  14 million which came from the Federal Department of Energy  to upgrade the plant to use natural gas.  They have influenced communities with the increase of 20 jobs and more taxes.

What  the community,  elected officials and investors need to see is the business plan  and how much energy the plant will generate for the users  over a 10 year period. In addition, the investors need to see the risks to the environmental, the community  and health.

From the news articles  there is a clear focus by the company, Connecticut  based Atlas Holdings, to influence the community, elected officials and the DEC that this is an environmentally  sound  and an economically feasible approach.

The need for electricity generated by the plant will go down as time goes on  in this  area since  there is a large move by  many individuals and business, including wineries , toward  using solar generated electricity and  moving away from electricity generated by fossil fuel power plants. .

The governor and the DEC  who support not drilling for natural gas via hydrofracking in NY,  need to address the environmental  risks , the investors need to address  financial   risks and NYSEG needs to address the infrastructure needs.

The community, elected officials, the DEC  and investors also need to know the whole story not just the parts that  seem progressive and acceptable.

I urge the public to use the DEC public comment period  which ends Sept 11th to express their thoughts and concerns.  The site to make comments is: http//

Peter Gamba  – Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes

Branchport NY

Is the re-tooled, re-opening of the Greenidge Power Plant a real step forward? Is it necessary? Is it taking funds away from the real future of energy production?

(A Thanks to reader Bob McGill for suggesting an article on the Greenidge Power Plant)

About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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8 Responses to Is there a real need for a Natural Gas Power Plant?

  1. Barbara Griffin says:

    Struggling with a similar situation here in Tompkins County and the Cayuga Power Plant in Lansing. At this point, it appears that the choices are: 1) upgrade the NYSEG grid for improved efficiency and close the plant vs 2) pipe in natural gas to supplement the coal, the cost of which will far exceed #1. Tom Reed is all for pumping in the gas, as you can imagine. There’s a coalition here in Ithaca fighting for a shut down.


  2. whungerford says:

    Here are the ratings of three plants:
    Cayuga: 306 MW
    Greenridge: 161 MW
    Dunkirk: 530 MW

    As Peter Gamba’s letter notes, the generation at Greenridge is insignificant except possibly for peaking–intermittent use at times of high demand. Besides possible disadvantages to burning gas, we should question if this generation is needed and if the proposed upgrade is cost effective.

    I don’t know if the fate of the Cayuga plant has been settled yet. In any case, the Greenridge project appears less worthwhile than the dubious Cayuga project.


  3. BOB McGILL says:

    WHAT, ” (A Thanks to reader Bob McGill for suggesting an article on the Greenidge Power Plant) “–THEN YOU DELETE MY COMMENTS :-p


  4. BOB McGILL says:

    FIRST, find out how many power plants are going to be taken OFF-LINE in the near future. Then ask yourself, where is the power going to come as they switch the coal powered plants to gas or close them. It takes time ya know, so something has to fill the gaps.


  5. BOB McGILL says:

    ” insignificant except possibly for peaking–intermittent use at times of high demand. ”
    YA MEAN LIKE A STORM THAT CAUSES A POWER OUTAGE IN THE DEAD OF WINTER ? Hell we don’t need heat for a few days after a storm anyway 😛


  6. BOB McGILL says:

    I liked Martha’s idea for the Cayuga Plant, burning trash, probably trash from New York City. 🙂


  7. Pingback: Different Views of the Greenidge Power Plant | New NY 23rd

  8. The use of natural gas as a fuel is better than coal but it will emit a high quantity of carbon dioxide and increase a devastatingly high carbon content in the atmosphere to 400ppm. 800,000 years ago was the last time it was that high !It is time to think long term and go direct to solar


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