LIPC featured in Newsday Op-Ed on Repowering

LIPA must repower its plants to help Long Island

Lisa Tyson is director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a grassroots advocacy group.

November 21, 2007

It’s great to see that the Long Island Power Authority is cutting the fat out of its 2008 budget, as was announced earlier this week. But to make a real difference to ratepayers, LIPA needs to address the issue of “repowering.”

The term refers to upgrading existing power facilities to increase their capacity or efficiency. The process uses the exhaust from combustion turbines to make steam, which powers existing turbine generators. According to studies, repowering may reduce a plant’s pollution by 90 percent and possibly double or even triple the power output.

Elected officials, environmentalists, and citizens have been calling for Long Island’s old, outdated power plants to be repowered for years. Even former LIPA chief executive and president Richard Kessel said he supported repowering, but so far not one megawatt has been repowered on Long Island.

LIPA’s new chief, Kevin Law, has the challenge of coming up with new ideas and new strategies to keep our lights on, while keeping our rates down. Repowering can do precisely that.

Repowering saves ratepayers significantly because it makes plants more efficient. As a homeowner, when your boiler is old and inefficient, you waste money every day. When you upgrade your boiler, you see savings immediately. That’s what repowering would do for Long Island’s energy system. It uses less gas and oil, so we could reduce our consumption of these expensive fossil fuels.

The KeySpan/National Grid merger deal includes several references to repowering. One is that National Grid will conduct an engineering study on the Northport and Port Jefferson power plants and invest in pollution-reducing technologies for them. The deal also gave LIPA the option of purchasing the E.F. Barrett power plant in Island Park and the Far Rockaway plant, for the purposes of repowering.

LIPA, which has until the end of next May to act on this option, should take it. Repowering Barrett will significantly reduce pollution. According to a study by the Center for Management Analysis at C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, repowering Barrett can result in 84 percent less carbon dioxide emissions, 92 percent less nitrogen oxide, 88 percent less sulfur oxide and 51 percent fewer air particulates.

Illnesses caused or exacerbated by pollution kill tens of thousands of Americans yearly. Power-plant pollution leads to costly health care expenses due to the tiny particulates that are released by the plants. They get into the respiratory system and cause upper respiratory problems including asthma, which most negatively affects children and the elderly. Many residents living by power plants complain of soot on their cars every morning. This same soot is getting into people’s lungs every day.

Pollution also contributes to global warming. The carbon dioxide traps greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing global warming.

Long Island is quite vulnerable to the effects of global warming because we are surrounded by water – it is our coastal areas that will be most affected by global climate change and rising sea levels. Global warming also contributes to more frequent and more powerful storms, which will challenge Long Island’s defenses. Many experts believe that the Island is woefully unprepared for a severe hurricane.

In addition to significantly reducing pollution, repowering the Barrett plant could help lower taxes for residents who live nearby. Because the community would have to endure having the plant expand its megawatt production, it might be able to receive additional revenue from LIPA in the form of payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), according to LIPA officials.

So for the people of Island Park and surrounding areas, repowering the Barrett power plant is a win-win – for their health, for their community and possibly even for their taxes.

LIPA, under the leadership of Kevin Law, has a great opportunity to help Long Island by moving on the option to purchase E.F. Barrett. Let’s repower Barrett and keep the lights on, lower pollution and reduce our fuel costs.
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Article about repowering forum in Oceanside/Island Park Herald

Forum planned on power plant in Island on Tuesday, November 13th at 7pm at Lincoln Orens Middle School

By Jeff Lipton

Officials in Island Park plan to hold a community forum next month on the possible impact of the Long Island Power Authority’s proposed agreement to purchase the Barrett power plant from KeySpan/National Grid.

Officials said the meeting would take place soon after Election Day, possibly at one of the local schools, and would bring residents up to date on the proposal, which, if LIPA follows through on the purchase, would repower the plant and thus reduce customers utility rates.

“Right now, until I get more information on it, I’m in favor of repowering,” said Island Park Mayor Jim Ruzicka. “First off, it will be a newer plant, and as for the longevity of the plant, we’ll have it for a long time, [which is important] for tax purposes and [receiving] revenue through taxes.”

In addition, Ruzicka said, repowering the Barrett plant would mean it would run much more cleanly and efficiently. Ratepayers would reap $236 million in economic benefits if LIPA follows through with its plans, authority officials said.

According to a story that has been circulating in the community, however, the power plant will not be repowered, but will be shut down entirel which both LIPA and KeySpan officials strongly denied. “That’s news to me,” said a spokeswoman for KeySpan.

“One of our major concerns is, what if the power plant disappears? Then what do we do with the tax base?” said Ruzicka. “Our taxes are high enough.”

Bert Cunningham, a LIPA spokesman, said that since December 2005, when the proposed agreement was signed, very little has changed. “There¹s nothing new,” he said. “No decision has been made as to LIPA exercising its option.”

The agreement gave LIPA the option to purchase both the Island Park plant and another in Far Rockaway for $75 million before an initial deadline of December 2006, which reportedly has been extended to next May. The agreement also stipulates that KeySpan will pay LIPA $69 million to help regulate energy costs for two years.

Cunningham said that one possibility is to close the Barrett plant and build a new one right next to it. “It’s a prime candidate for repowering, which is taking the old plant and putting in new technology,” he said. “It would be a newer, cleaner and more efficient facility.” Cunningham added that LIPA could purchase either the Island Park or Far Rockaway plants, or both, or neither.

Jonathan Grindell, a community organizer for the Long Island Progressive Coalition, is in favor of LIPA’s repowering the Barrett plant because of the many health and energy benefits that would be derived from such a move. He said that the proposal would upgrade a facility that is 50 years old, reduce pollution up to 90 percent and potentially double or triple the plant’s efficiency.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Grindell, adding that it would increase tax revenue for the community as well. He said that much of the tax revenue the Island Park School District receives comes from the Barrett plant. Other officials said that the benefit of the proposed agreement for KeySpan would be improved efficiency in LIPA’s electrical system, and that LIPA has extended an agreement making KeySpan its primary power supplier from 2008 to 2013.

Feeding gas and oil-generated power into an electrical grid, the Barrett Plant generates a significant portion of the energy used in southwestern Nassau County. Local environmental groups have pointed to Barrett and plants in Northport and Port Jefferson as most in need of repowering because of their age, claiming that they produce comparatively high levels of pollution. The Barrett plant consists of two units, the first built in 1956 and the other in 1963.

Cunningham said that LIPA was completing a detailed economic analysis to determine the feasibility of buying the plants. The proposed agreement must be approved by both LIPA’s and KeySpan’s boards of trustees as well as the state’s attorney general and comptroller. The LIPA board gave its OK on June 6, approving the agreement in principle.

Experts on repowering will be invited to speak at next month’s forum. Legislators Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) and Jeff Toback (D-Oceanside) will also be invited, as well as officials from the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

LIPC's Current Campaigns

LIPC Voting Booth Campaign

In coalition with other statewide and national groups LIPC is working to make sure Nassau and Suffolk counties use auditation and reliable voting machines rather than touch-screen machines that are vulnerable to tampering and hacking. Read side bar for more information.


LIPC is fighting for a reliable, accessible, affordable and community-friendly public transportation system that will reduce dependence upon the automobile. We are leading grassroots efforts to steer the Department of Transportation’s 20-year plan for Long Island (LITP2000) in that direction.

Clean Money, Clean Elections

LIPC is fighting to take big-money out of politics. We support Clean Money, Clean Elections reform, to limit campaign spending and provide fixed and equal public funds to candidates.


LIPC, is organizing the local campaign of a statewide initiative The Alliance For Quality Education. AQE believes that every public school should provide a quality education to all its students by having smaller classes, qualified teachers, safe clean and technologically up to date classrooms, and early childhood education programs.

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South Fork Progressive Coalition

The South Fork Progressive Coalition promotes healthy, equitable, and environmentally sustainable policies in East Hampton and Southampton Towns specifically targeting affordable housing.

Suffolk County Jail

The state has mandated that Suffolk County build a 1260 bed “Super Jail” in Yaphank that will cost tax-payers close to half a billion dollars when you factor in construction costs and debt service. We maintain that cheaper and more effective alternatives to jail construction exist. Bigger jails and prisons has a negative effect to our society. We need to find more effective and creative ways of address public safety.[visit]

Caithness Power Plant and Repowering

Given the fact that LIPA has significantly increased the amount of energy that comes to Long Island in past years, the LIPC is calling for a moritoriam on all future construction of fossil fuel burning plants. This includes the proposed natural gas burning Caithness power plant planned for Brookhaven. Instead we demand that LIPA “repower” or retrofit their older dirtier plants in Port Jefferson, North Port, Island Park, Far Rockaway, and elsewhere. Click here for more info.