LIPA to host town meeting
By ALEX COSTELLO and AMANDA HOFFMANN March 12, 2009
On March 18 at 7 p.m., LIPA will host a meeting in Island Park to discuss the power authority’s possible purchase of the 125-acre Barrett power plant on McCarthy Road, which is owned and operated by National Grid.
The meeting, which will be held at Lincoln Orens Middle School, is an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions and give LIPA their input about the purchase, which could result in an overhaul of the plant, which was built in the 1950s.
If the plant — which is tied with National Grid’s Port Jefferson plant for the title of second-largest plant on the island — is purchased by LIPA, it would go through a repowering, which means it would be upgraded for efficiency. “We would go in and modernize the plant, give it some new parts to help it operate more efficiently and cost effectively,” said LIPA’s manager of media relations, Mark Gross. Gross said LIPA hoped the meeting would be an opportunity to obtain input from the community before its board makes a final decision about whether to purchase the plant through a contractual clause with National Grid, which sells the plant’s power to LIPA.
The plant is not for sale on the open market, said Elizabeth Margulies, spokeswoman for National Grid. “It’s not for sale in the sense that somebody else could come along and buy it. They have an option to buy it at the net book value.”
Margulies said that in the event that LIPA exercises its option to buy the plant, National Grid would likely continue to contract with LIPA to operate the plant, which employs 60 workers. “If they don’t purchase, it will continue as it’s been,” said Margulies. “We will continue to own and operate it and sell [LIPA] power.” LIPA’s option to purchase the plant expires
The Long Island Progressive Coalition, a citizen run community organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development, revitalizing local communities, enhancing human dignity, creating effective democracy, and achieving economic, social, and racial justice, supports the purchase in the hopes that repowering the plant will help reduce global warming through newer and more efficient
“It’s like an old boiler, it’s like a clunker,” said Jonathan Grindell, a community organizer with LIPC. “It needs to be upgraded. It’ll still run, but eventually it might become so inefficient it would be shut down. So we hope it’s bought by LIPA and repowered so that scenario doesn’t happen.”
Grindell said that LIPC knows of many area residents who are hoping the purchase goes through because it would be a win-win situation, increasing efficiency and reducing global warming, while ensuring Island Park residents continue to see benefits from PILOTS, which are paid in lieu of taxes, and help ease the community’s tax burden.
Gross said that in past circumstances, LIPA has negotiated PILOT payments for the host communities, and that option would be considered if LIPA were to purchase the Barrett plant.
Island Park Mayor Jim Ruzicka also supports the proposal, which he said could benefit the community. Ruzicka said he is in favor of repowering the plant because it would add longevity to the Barrett plant and also bring more revenue to the local economy during renovations or if operations at the site were to increase.
“I’ve been reassured that [money to the community would] continue because LIPA would pay PILOTS,” Ruzicka said. “From what I’ve been told, repowering means a new plant, not really redoing the old. But it would be nice to see [LIPA] address these questions at a public meeting.”
Comments about this story? AHoffmann@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 269.
Related website: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20278661&BRD=1601&PAG=461&dept_id=479857&rfi=6