The New York Power Authority’s program to install 10 small, clean gas-turbine generators in boroughs of the Big Apple in time to prevent blackouts and price spikes this summer gained some state agency lobbying partners this week, who urged the New York State Assembly to support the program to avert California-like energy problems in the coming months.
“A delay of even one day would bring us that much closer to the kinds of blackouts, brownouts and price spikes that have created the crisis in California,” Eugene W. Zeltmann, NYPA’s COO, told members of the three New York Assembly committees on Environmental Conservation, Energy, and Corporations, Authorities and Commissions. “Our gas-turbine initiative is in keeping with the Power Authority’s long-standing tradition of meeting major energy needs in New York State, and doing so with utmost respect and concern for the environment.”
The generators would provide approximately 400 MW of additional capacity in New York City, a figure that is virtually equal to the in-city generating shortfall predicted in a recent report by the New York Independent System Operator, which administers the city’s wholesale power markets. The NY ISO requires that at least 80% of New York City’s power supply be produced within the city because of the transmission constraints that limit supplies from outside sources.
The 10 turbines would be located at six sites in four of New York City’s boroughs, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. A technically feasible site in Manhattan could not be found. NYPA also is installing a unit on Long Island in Suffolk County.
Zeltmann was flanked by testimony from Maureen O. Helmer, chair of the New York Public Service Commission and Glen Bruening, executive deputy commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. He said that NYPA is “moving ahead quickly” by installing the new units to meet the “crucial summer deadline” and still comply with the state’s environmental standards.
“We have had more than 25 face-to-face meetings with public officials, community leaders and members of the public,” said Zeltmann. “And that doesn’t count the many, many telephone conversations we’ve had with interested people.”
With what he called the “cleanest power sources in the city,” Zeltmann said that NYPA would invest another $50 million to provide advanced equipment to control air emissions and noise. “We have also committed to offset even the minimal air emissions from these plants by reducing emissions from other New York City sources,” he said. “We’re looking at various options to accomplish that and have asked residents of the communities in which the units will be located to provide their own ideas.”
Helmer said there was “real shortage” of generating capacity in New York City, “a shortage that undermines the provision of safe and reliable electric service to the city and, following the laws of supply and demand, also serves to increase prices.”
Bruening said that the NYPA commitment “goes above and beyond our regulatory requirements,” and said that the units would emit 400 times less nitrogen oxides, 140 times less particulates and 30 times less sulfur dioxides than facilities with similar generating capacity.
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