Gianaris pulls his support for Luyster Creek

Michael Gianaris

September 02, 2011

Queens Times Ledger wrote about the Luyster Creek Energy Project planned by USPowergen. Senator Gianaris cannot support power generation unless we are guaranteed an overall emissions reduction.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) withdrew his support for a new green power plant project after learning that despite an upgrade meant to reduce emissions, the company will be allowed to create pollutants at a higher rate than it had been allowed previously. 

“My issue has always been that I will not support new power generation unless we’re guaranteed an overall emissions reduction,” Gianaris said. 

USPowergen, which operates the Astoria Generating Station on 20th Avenue near Shore Boulevard, has been going through the process of putting its natural gas plant through a green upgrade since January 2010. 

The Connecticut-based company will be retiring the oldest of its four units, which also happens to be the one closest to the residential area. In its place, it will install a 410-megawatt Siemens H-series modern combined cycle unit at a defunct oil yard deep within the complex. 

Meanwhile, the other three units will have their emissions capped and the current fuel oil will be replaced with ultra low-sulfur diesel. 

John Reed, senior vice president with US Powergen, said the permit for increased was due to changes in the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s standards, and was to allow for increased flexibility if a unit went down. 

“We remain absolutely committed to ensure that there is no increase in emissions,” Reed said. 

This plan called the Luyster Creek Energy Project is expected to increase the plant’s power creation capability by 10 percent to 18 percent. USPowergen took another step toward completing the project Aug. 24, when it opened up the draft/final environmental impact statement to community comment at Ricardo’s by the Bridge, at 21-01 24th Ave. in Astoria. 

“We’re a year and a half into this project,” said David Perri, director of corporate engineering and major projects at USPowergen. “This is a milestone.” 

Representatives of USPowergen and the DEC conducted the meeting. Stephen Tomasik, an environmental analyst for the DEC, said the project required air and “acid rain” permits from the DEC. 

A fact sheet by the DEC said USPowergen has taken a number of actions to reduce the impact, including ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, noise, erosion and runoff, among other impacts to the community. 

Both meetings had few visitors, with only eight to 15 people at each and almost no dissent. Gianaris had issued a statement in support of the project at the meeting, but later said, despite assurances from USPowergen it would not produce emissions at that level, he wanted a permit that would not allow for greater emissions. 

“Rather than just take their word for it, I’d rather see a guarantee,” Gianaris said.

Read the full article here.