Danskammer Holds Open Houses On Proposed Power Plant
Danskammer Energy wants to construct a new gas-fired power plant in the Town of Newburgh. The owners and operators say the proposed plant would have economic and environmental benefits. Environmentalists, however, stand against the proposal, saying it flies in the face of renewable energy goals. Earlier Monday, Danskammer officials held the first of four open houses.
The proposed $400 million plant would provide more than 500 megawatts of generating capacity. William Reid is CEO of Danskammer Energy.
“It would be an entirely new construction although we will be using the existing substation, gas pipeline and electrical transmission so as not to disrupt the community at all,” Reid says.
Danskammer currently operates as a peaker plant.
“So we currently are on a Central Hudson pipeline, a pipe that comes directly to our plant. We run now on natural gas,” says Reid. “When we build a new plant, we’ll simply shift that connection to the new plant and turn off the old plant.”
Reid points out that the proposed plant would not touch the Hudson River for cooling. Pete Sikora is with New York Communities for Change.
“Well, this Wall Street insider private equity firm is moving forward with trying to poison the air in the local community and heat the climate by building a giant new fossil fuel gas plant,” Sikora says.
Danskammer was shut down in 2012 following damage from Superstorm Sandy. The plant was sold in 2013 in a bankruptcy sale and, after other transactions, private equity firm Tiger Infrastructure Partners purchased Danskammer in 2017. Environmentalists say they are concerned about sea level rise and storm surge and the plant’s being in a floodplain. Company officials say the new plant would be built 6-to-10 feet higher than where Sandy reached the other plant. Santosh Nandabalan is an organizer with Food & Water Watch. He and other protestors stood on Route 9W before the open house, holding signs opposing Danskammer.
“This added infrastructure will only further us in fracked gas development and worsen our climate,” Nandabalan says. “We can get that energy from renewable sources.”
“Renewables, as you know, are much more intermittent. And so you need new technology gas turbines to respond when the sun goes down and the wind doesn’t blow,” says Reid. “We will be one of those facilities that will help support renewable development going forward. We don’t need more transmission to do so and we use much less gas than existing facilities.”
The project is being considered under a streamlined process called “Article 10.” Reid says Danskammer will file a preliminary scoping statement, likely in January, that would provide further detail on the proposal. He looks to file the Article 10 application spring or summer of 2019, with public hearings to follow. Reid says that if the process moves forward in Danskammer’s favor, shovels could hit the ground by the end of 2020.
Town of Newburgh Supervisor Gil Piaquadio says he wants to hear from energy experts about how much additional power the electrical grid will need when the Indian Point nuclear power plant shuts down by 2021.
“If it is a necessity, then we have to go with it. And, of course, any money the town gets, or the school, that’s all more the better,” Piaquadio says. “We’re still exploring here of what’s going on but, it so far seems so good, seems pretty good, to me.”
Marlborough Supervisor Alphonso Lanzetta attended to learn more, saying the town’s school district stands to benefit.
“So this is something that we’re looking forward to seeing happen, and in an environmental way,” Lanzetta says. “I think it’s all good.”
Sikora, with New York Communties for Change, points out that while Danskammer’s first open house was in progress, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was laying out his agenda for the first 100 days of the next legislative session, including the launch of a so-called Green New Deal. Cuomo says the Green New Deal will make New York's electricity 100 percent carbon neutral by 2040 and put the state on the path to eliminating its carbon footprint.
Plant approval rests with the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment in the Department of Public Service. Meantime, two more open houses are being held Tuesday, at the VFW Community Center in Wappingers Falls, from 11-to-1 and 5:30-to-7:30.