This posting contains three documents about the proposed re-opening of the Greenidge Power Plant, near 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
There was exciting job news for the Finger Lakes region last week. 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.
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
WRITE ON: Power plant comments needed
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.
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.
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.