Different Views of the Greenidge Power Plant

This posting contains three documents about the proposed re-opening of the Greenidge Power Plant, GreenidgePowerPlantnear Dresden (Town of Torrey, Yates County). All of the document were published in the Finger Lakes Times (Geneva) during August. 

The first document is a “Guest Appearance” editorial by Rep. Tom Reed, praising the project for its economical benefits for the area, the fact it will be using Natural Gas which helps us break our dependency on foreign sources, and that the plant will meet local energy needs.

The second document is a letter the editor questioning the need of plant, and focusing on the methane which will be added to the environment.

The third document is a commentary written by Michael Fitzgerald, who has a weekly column in the Finger Lakes Times. Besides questioning the need for the plant, Mr. Fitzgerald point out the short period for comments and the need for a public hearing. 

Another document about the Power Plant a Letter To The Editor was discussed in a previous New NY23rd article, Is there a real need for a Natural Gas Power Plant? As far as There has been no other Letters To The Editors in the Finger Lakes Times about this project. There was an article in June focusing on both Greenidge and the Lansing Power Plant, which incorrectly reported that Greenidge would “still using coal as a fuel source”.

Re-tooling and re-opening a power plant is complicated, expensive and very political. Reviewing it from four people’s point of views gives us an unique insight how participatory government needs to work.

 

GUEST APPEARANCE: A lot of benefits with plant

By TOM REED | Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I care about creating jobs, growing our economy, and ensuring that our families and businesses have access to affordable sources of electricity. That is why we joined with a broad coalition of local businesses, community leaders, and elected officials that are working tirelessly to get this plant back on-line producing power and jobs. What’s more, we are using our U.S. natural gas resources that helps reduce our overall energy dependency on foreign sources.

The power generated by Greenidge will reduce energy costs, help meet local energy demands and reduce the impact on the local environment. That is an immediate boost to our area and by lowering energy costs plays a pivotal long-term role in restoring even more manufacturing jobs to the region.

Producing cleaner power is also good for our environment. Under the Clean Air Act, the DEC has primary responsibility to review the facts and determine whether Greenidge meets all state and federal environmental standards. After conducting a thorough year-long review of the permits, applications, and plans, the DEC reached the conclusion this plant is ready to begin working for our community once again.

Greenidge exemplifies the type of power-supplying facility that can help meet the energy needs of local communities while also protecting the environment. The plant will convert from coal to natural gas as the primary fuel used for its generating operations. Throughout this transition, Greenidge will be able to run on natural gas and biomass, which the Environmental Protection Agency has cited as an important source of reducing CO2 emissions in energy production.

More than $45 million has been invested in emissions control upgrades in recent years, $14 million of which has come from the Department of Energy. It is only fair that taxpayers see a direct, positive return on their investment; restarting the Greenidge plant will provide real benefits and have a positive impact on our community for generations to come. We are grateful for being involved in this effort and glad to have been able to do our part to bring it to a successful outcome.

Letter To The Editor:

Congressman Tom Reed is full of natural gas delusions. The rosy picture he paints in his Finger Lakes Times guest editorial Aug. 18 completely ignores the thorns of burning any fossil fuels. He blends buzz words and half-truths that vaporize upon examination. Mr. Reed and other New York elected officials are making pronouncements about the re-powered Greenidge electric station that say more about their agenda than reality.

Mr. Reed comments about meeting “the growing energy needs of the state.” Is he paying attention to the facts? Jim Miller’s report (Finger Lakes Times, Aug. 13) states that “decreasing electricity demands” is one reason the coal plant was shut down.

Mr. Reed, state Sen. Tom O’Mara, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano as well as President Obama are not being honest about burning natural gas. Saying that burning natural gas is “cleaner than coal” ignores the uncontrolled release of methane. From a Feb. 14, 2014 article in Science titled Methane Leaks from North American Natural Gas Systems, “Fracking speeds up human-caused climate change due to methane leaks alone” regardless of the source. Methane is about 82X more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

Is it morally acceptable for New York to escape the toxic hazards of natural gas drilling and all that comes with it and instead buy gas from other states like Pennsylvania, which suffer the extraction and poisoning of its waters? Fracking creates billions of gallons of water unfit for human consumption.

While the staffing of the Greenidge power station will be about 70 FTE, solar installers like Renovus have hired 60-plus employees in the past couple of years and is set to hire another 30 before the end of the year. And on a larger scale, the Solarcity Manufacturing Plant in Buffalo is going to be hiring 3,000-plus employees.

The development of natural gas infrastructure is a shortsighted and expensive investment considering that New York state will have an energy profile that is 100 percent renewable power by 2030. Why waste billions of dollars on repowering the old plants?

Let’s tell the Governor not to spend our money to bail out outdated power plants that burn frack-gas.

It’s time to stop our dependence on fossil fuels. We need transmission upgrades, renewable energy and transition support for the power plant workers and affected communities.

TONY DEL PLATO

Interlaken

WRITE ON: Power plant comments needed

Michael Fitzgerald

We always seem to get the last invitation to the party.

In this case, “we” means the public. And the party? It is almost any public hearing.

I don’t mean physically tardy for the hearing. I mean the public arrives late in the decision-making process.

By the time most public officials — elected and appointed — get around to formally asking the public what it thinks, a decision has pretty much been made. And because of that, whatever questions the public might have, whatever reservations citizens raise, are not particularly welcome.

Right now, less than two weeks remain for the public to comment on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft permit for a former coal-fired power plant in Dresden. The Connecticut-based owners want to fire it up again — this time with natural gas as the fuel source.

The DEC popped up Aug. 12 with a positive recommendation to allow the company to throw the switch. The Greenidge power plant is supposed to burn biomass and perhaps some fuel oil, eventually switching to natural gas.

Eventually?

That’s one of many pesky questions the public is asking. While the DEC analyzed the restarting of the plant (which closed in 2011), the agency left out formal consideration of a required natural gas pipeline.

How can these be considered separately when they are part and parcel of the same project?

Inquiring minds want to know how the DEC could approve the operation of a 107-megawatt natural-gas power plant without ensuring that, um, the natural gas end of things is environmentally and legally acceptable.

There are lots of other pesky questions revolving around the use of Seneca Lake water, millions of gallons. And then there is the most basic, baseline question — is the electricity really needed?

Since the plant was taken offline four years ago, there hasn’t been an avalanche of headlines reporting electrical shortages in the region.

That’s not to say the power is not needed. But why not release DEC data — or data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — to support the idea?

Provided there has been a study, there is data and it supports the need.

These questions and others deserve more than the fast-tracked, 30-day comment period about to end.

Citizens have a right to ask timely questions about safety, water, natural gas transmission and potential air pollution.

That’s the reason for holding a public hearing — so the public can ask questions and get answers.

The current short comment period virtually guarantees the public is going to grumble —  justifiably — a grumbling that can be easily avoided by the DEC.

Before the existing public comment period ends Sept. 11, the DEC should set a date for an early fall public hearing. There it can unveil the answers to the public’s 30-day queries, respond to new questions and perhaps by then have a timeline set for the assessment of the new natural gas pipeline needed to operate the power plant.

Imagine it.

A public hearing conducted in real time, with the public asking real-time questions of the DEC staff that drafted the positive environmental review of Greenidge, sans the natural gas pipeline segment.

If this model had been followed prior to the proposal by Crestwood Midstream of Texas to store 88 million gallons of liquid propane gas in unlined salt caverns near Watkins Glen, perhaps it would not have turned into the contentious and litigious issue that continues to polarize our region.

The public hearing for the proposed power plant could even be held in Dresden.

I hear it’s lovely there in the fall.

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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.
This entry was posted in Education, Environmental, fracking, Health Care, Hydrofracking/Gas& Oil Industry, NYS Government, Reed's Views, Town Hall Meeting, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Different Views of the Greenidge Power Plant

  1. whungerford says:

    There are at least three obsolete coal burning plants in NY-23: Dunkirk, Cayuga, and Dresden. NYSEG opposed investing in Dunkirk and Cayuga and I suppose opposes investment in Dresden. Dunkirk was planned for conversion due to political pressure; conversion is stalled by a lawsuit. Cayuga is in limbo. Dresden, the smallest of the three, is an unlikely candidate for conversion on technical grounds, but politics might again intervene.

  2. BOB McGILL says:

    Michael Fitzgerald is a radical environmental instigator who has little to no understanding of environmental issues. He is trying to make a buck misleading average citizens who know NOTHING ABOUT SCIENCE. Having read his Write On garbage for 4 years, it is my opinion, that he is nothing but a CON-MAN.

    • pystew says:

      Rep. Tom Reed is a radical easily bought legislator who has little to no understanding of environmental issues. He is trying to make a buck misleading average citizens who know NOTHING ABOUT SCIENCE. Having read his anti-middle class garbage for 4 years, it is my opinion, that he is nothing but a CON-MAN.

  3. pystew says:

    You are entitled to your opinion. It could be taken more seriously if you gave some details. I noticed that the information he provides is against your beliefs, does that have anything to do with your opinion of his science knowledge?

    Do you agree with him that there should have been a longer comment period? How about that there should be a public hearing? How about that Dresden is lovely in the fall?

  4. BOB McGILL says:

    http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/…/electricity…/5708113/‎

    Feb 22, 2014 … National Grid, the two Iberdrola companies and other investor-owned … which
    runs the state’s power grid, said consumers got a break last year when …
    Expensive gas-fired power plants that don’t always run full-tilt were pressed … ”
    Our January bills are going out in the next day or two,” he said on Thursday.

  5. whungerford says:

    As Mr. Del Plato noted, almost everything Tom wrote is misleading if not wrong. Here is a list:

    There was exciting job news for the Finger Lakes region last week.

    Who’s excited? DEC ruled that the converted plant could be licensed to operate without violating environmental regulations.

    The state Department of Environmental Conservation found the Greenidge Power Generation Station’s application for restart meets all state requirements. This is an important step toward restarting the power plant and bringing good-paying jobs back to Yates County.

    Meets DEC requirements, but it isn’t clear that NYSEG wants the plant on-line or the PSC will authorize it.

    I care about creating jobs, growing our economy, and ensuring that our families and businesses have access to affordable sources of electricity. That is why we joined with a broad coalition of local businesses, community leaders, and elected officials that are working tirelessly to get this plant back on-line producing power and jobs.

    This small plant can’t compete with larger, more efficient producers. As with the Dunkirk plant, power produced will cost more than the average. While jobs are welcome, unneeded power plants shouldn’t be restarted for that reason. There are much better ways to create jobs.

    What’s more, we are using our U.S. natural gas resources that helps reduce our overall energy dependency on foreign sources.

    Coal was mined domestically too.

    The power generated by Greenidge will reduce energy costs, help meet local energy demands and reduce the impact on the local environment. That is an immediate boost to our area and by lowering energy costs plays a pivotal long-term role in restoring even more manufacturing jobs to the region.

    Power generated by a small, inefficient plant won’t reduce energy costs. It might help meet local energy needs if the generation is needed. It will only reduce the environmental impact when compared to burning coal. The Greenidge plant is sixty years old; it is unlikely to play a long term role in anything. Restoring even more manufacturing jobs than what?

    Producing cleaner power is also good for our environment. Under the Clean Air Act, the DEC has primary responsibility to review the facts and determine whether Greenidge meets all state and federal environmental standards. After conducting a thorough year-long review of the permits, applications, and plans, the DEC reached the conclusion this plant is ready to begin working for our community once again.

    DEC determined that the plant could be licensed to operate. Tom’s claim that DEC concluded that the plant is ready to begin working for our community again overstates the case.

    Greenidge exemplifies the type of power-supplying facility that can help meet the energy needs of local communities while also protecting the environment. The plant will convert from coal to natural gas as the primary fuel used for its generating operations. Throughout this transition, Greenidge will be able to run on natural gas and biomass, which the Environmental Protection Agency has cited as an important source of reducing CO2 emissions in energy production.

    Greenidge is a small, inefficient, plant that probably should be retired. It exemplifies past technology which isn’t environmentally friendly. The plant, fueled with gas, can only be said to protect the environment when compared to burning coal.

    More than $45 million has been invested in emissions control upgrades in recent years, $14 million of which has come from the Department of Energy. It is only fair that taxpayers see a direct, positive return on their investment; restarting the Greenidge plant will provide real benefits and have a positive impact on our community for generations to come. We are grateful for being involved in this effort and glad to have been able to do our part to bring it to a successful outcome.

    The fact that money has been invested has no bearing on the need to operate the Greenidge plant. Operating it when unneeded throws good money after bad. The Greenidge plant, built more than sixty years ago, is unlikely to remain in service for “generations to come.”

    • BOB McGILL says:

      They will never do away with a power plant no matter how old it is because there would be too much opposition to building a new one. Also NYSEG buys electricity they don’t generate it. If you go to a cradible sourse you would find there is a need for more electricity. Methane is .00017 % of the atmosphere, less than 19% is from human activities mainly agriculture and deforestation. CO2 is .036% of the atmosphere and mans contribution is 5% of the total.

  6. BOB McGILL says:

    http://www.breitbart.com/…/climate-change-the-hoax-that-costs-us-4-billion-a-day/‎
    Aug 8, 2015 … Climate change: the Hoax that Costs Us $4 Billion a Day. 135 … and scroungers
    via various taxes and tariffs feeds back into the economy.

  7. 0U812 says:

    Why do you insist on deleting all truthfull information ? What do you intend to accomplish ?

    • pystew says:

      That is quite a claim, oU812.
      Please explain:

      1) What has been deleted about this topic? 2) How do you know what was deleted since you claim it was deleted?

      Yes, I have trashed personal attacks. (see “How To Comment” from the menu under the picture at the top of the page). I have allowed McGill’s misinformation and abbreviated links that don’t work without wasting your day.

      Have a great Labor Day Week End!

      • pystew says:

        oU812, If you have something to say about this topic, I would be glad to post it for others to see and comment on. If you are just complaining about this blog I’ll read it, but it will not get posted.

        Again, Please explain:

        1) What has been deleted about this topic? 2) How do you know what was deleted since you claim it was deleted?

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