LIPA Town Hall Meeting About Repowering

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
March 31.

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
processes.

“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

Global Warming Campaign to Repower Barrett Power Plant

Decision on IP power plant delayed

By JEFF LIPTON August 14, 2008

A decision by Long Island Power Authority about whether to purchase and then revamp the E.F. Barrett Power Plant in Island Park – a major power-producer on Long Island -has been postponed until the end of the year, officials said.

LIPA was originally expected to render its decision on the Barrett plant about three months ago, but is continuing to study data and the feasibility of such a move.

In December 2005 LIPA had worked out a proposed agreement to purchase the Barrett plant from KeySpan, which is now part of National Grid, with an eye toward repowering the more than 50-year-old plant. The Barrett plant is one of a handful being considered for repowering by LIPA.

“Through a mutual agreement between National Grid and LIPA, the date for the repowering decision has been pushed back to the end of the year to continue our analysis and due diligence,” LIPA President and CEO Kevin S. Law said last week. “LIPA is committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and economical electric service to its customers. The study will determine if we can achieve these goals through repowering options at the proposed sites.” The main goal of the study is to assess the engineering, environmental and economic feasibility of repowering existing plants, the benefits of which include greater efficiency, increased capacity and reduced emission rates.

Repowering involves incorporating new technology with old technology – particularly by converting to a primarily gas-based system that utilizes combustion turbine engines and waste heat for energy – to produce more efficient, cleaner power. Repowering may also involve building a brand-new plant.

Repowering Barrett would reduce its pollution output by 90 percent while significantly increasing the plant’s efficiency, said officials, adding that the potential benefits for ratepayers would be in the hundreds of millions.

Nassau County Legislator Jeff Toback (D-Oceanside) said he sees the postponement of LIPA’s decision until around December 2008 as a positive signal.

“I take it as a good sign,” said Toback. “These deals are so complicated and have so much red tape and bureaucracy involved. If they were not interested in the plant, then the deadline would come and go and they would take no action. This is a tremendous decision and it takes time to get it done right.”

However, Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) said she was “a little disappointed” that LIPA is dragging its feet on a decision.

“I was hoping to know in June that the plant has been selected for repowering,” she said. “I do respect the opinions of the LIPA Board and understand the reasoning for putting it off. I’m hoping that they are still considering the Barrett Power Plant for repowering.”

The property on which the plant is operating has a large footprint, she said, giving it the ability to add on new equipment without infringing on adjacent property. It also has a natural gas pipeline underneath the property so it’s already equipped with resources, making it a prime candidate for repowering. She said during major blackouts, Barrett is one of the first plants to come back on line.

Officials said repowering the old plant would produce cleaner air and water, replacing the outdated equipment with state-of-the-art equipment making the plant more efficient to run.

Repowering would also create many construction jobs, said Toback. “It’s a win-win,” he said, adding that any rumors that the plant could be shut down or relocated if it’s not purchased by LIPA are probably not true. “I just don’t believe that’s an option,” he said.

The plant also is a major contributor to school district taxes, relieving much of the burden from area residents. Island Park Mayor Jim Ruzicka, who has for the most part been gung-ho about any LIPA repowering efforts of Barrett, said last week that he was extremely concerned about LIPA’s commitment to make the entire “pilot” payments, which are the taxes owed on the property.

“I want this in writing,” said Ruzicka. “Since they are a government agency, if they decide to save some money, they could knock down the pilots. But all indications are that they would not do that.

“I’m definitely in favor of repowering,” he said. “But I’m not so sure I’m in favor of LIPA purchasing the plant unless there are concrete guarantees that the pilots will be continued. If the pilots are lowered, it may hurt our school district.”

He said the payments have no impact on the village, but will help the unincorporated areas of Harbor Isle and Barnum Isle, which will see savings.

“While this matter has not been addressed yet, we look forward to working with the mayor on this issue,” said Law of Ruzicka’s concerns.

Nonetheless, Ruzicka said it was a good thing that LIPA’s decision has been postponed. “It gives us more time to do our research,” the mayor said.

Public meetings are expected to be held by LIPA in the fall to help determine whether to purchase Barrett and repower it, but a date and location have not yet been determined, officials said.

“It’s a good idea to have a meeting to keep residents informed,” said Ruzicka. “To repower the plant, environmentally it will be the best thing. A newer plant is more efficient and it’s always a plus from that end.”
The mayor added that Barrett has been “a good neighbor in the community,” and he would like to see it continue to operate there, especially with newer and technologically advanced equipment.

“If we lose the power plant, then we will lose a tremendous amount of money for the school district,” said Ruzicka.

As LIPA continues to weigh its options on purchasing and then repowering, local communities surrounding the Barrett plant have been called to action.

Jonathan Grindell, a community organizer for the Long Island Progressive Coalition, said members of his group have been going door-to-door in Island Park and surrounding communities such as Oceanside and Long Beach collecting petitions urging LIPA to repower the Barrett plant. The petition states that the plant is old and outdated, which can cause health problems, and also wastes “huge amounts of oil and gas.”

“Repowering significantly decreases pollution and global warming while increasing efficiency of the plant,” said Grindell, who added that well over 100 signatures have been collected on the petitions. “We do have a groundswell of support in the community.

“This opportunity will not be around forever,” Grindell added. “But this is an opportunity we must take advantage of.”

The Barrett plant consists of two units, the first built in 1956 and the other in 1963, which collectively generate 350 megawatts of power by feeding gas but mostly oil-generated power into an electrical grid. With one megawatt powering roughly 1,000 homes, Barrett produces a significant portion of the energy used in southwestern Nassau County.

In December 2005, when the proposed agreement was signed between LIPA and KeySpan, LIPA was given the option to purchase both the Island Park plant and another one in Far Rockaway for $75 million before the initial deadline in December 2006. The agreement also stipulated that KeySpan will pay LIPA $69 million to help regulate energy costs for two years.

As part of National Grid’s acquisition of KeySpan, which was finalized in August 2007, LIPA was given until May 2008 to decide whether to repower the Barrett plant. That deadline has now been extended to the end of this year. Officials said that LIPA could purchase both the Island Park and Far Rockaway plants, either one, or neither.

Construction for repowering Barrett would likely take between 18 and 24 months, and the permit approval process could take up to five years, officials said.

Joseph Kellard contributed to this article. Comments about it? Jlipton@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 213.
Related website: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20017418&BRD=1601&PAG=461&dept_id=479857&rfi=6

LIPC featured in Newsday Op-Ed on Repowering

LIPA must repower its plants to help Long Island

BY LISA TYSON
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.
Related website: http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-optys215469821nov21,0,1792446.story

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.
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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.