Report Takes Issue With Plans For Danskammer Power Plant

Aug 20, 2018

Operation plans for a Hudson Valley power plant are meeting opposition from environmentalists and a watchdog group. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne reports opponents are calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to reject permits once an application is submitted.

The Danskammer power plant in the Town of Newburgh currently operates as a peaker plant, running when there is high demand for electricity. Danskammer Energy, in a May 24 letter to the New York state Public Service Commission, says it is proposing to repower its Danskammer Generating Station site to increase its operating capacity. A report from the Public Accountability Initiative and New York Communities for Change says the newly configured plant would contribute to climate pollution and harm the environment. Derek Seidman is research analyst at the Public Accountability Initiative, and the report’s lead author.

“We argue in the report that Danskammer represents a profit grab by group of Wall Street billionaires and multi-millionaires who are closely tied to the Trump agenda and even to former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka,” Seidman says.

In 2017, private equity firm Tiger Infrastructure Partners purchased Danskammer. A Tiger spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Pete Sikora, another of the report’s authors, is with New York Communities for Change.

“This kind of a project will significantly increase climate pollution from New York state at a time when we need to be going in the opposite direction and rapidly reducing climate pollution,” says Sikora.

He notes Danskammer has not yet submitted a permit application so the report does not include metrics from the plant’s owners on environmental impacts. Still, Sikora says the impacts will be harmful.

“The bottom line is that the public health, particularly in the local area, is threatened by the Danskammer proposal,” Sikora says. “And Governor Cuomo should be acting to protect New Yorkers’ lungs, particularly in the local area, particularly children and other vulnerable populations, and not approve this facility.”

The existing Danskammer Generating Station has four operating steam turbine generators with a combined capacity of 511 megawatts. The proposed repowering would carry a generation capacity of about 525-to-575 megawatts. The plan is to add a combustion turbine generator and steam turbine generator in a combined cycle configuration. And the plan is to use an air cooled condensing system to eliminate the use of cooling water. The use of cooling water, drawing water fro the Hudson River, is a method that environmentalists criticize. Again, Sikora.

“New York has pledged to reduce its emissions by over 80 percent by 2050,” says Sikora. “And, in order to do that, Governor Cuomo can’t allow new fracked gas infrastructure that will lock in decades of future emissions.”

A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo did not return a request for comment. However, his office has previously pointed to the Democrat’s Reforming the Energy Vision to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. Part of REV is ensuring New York reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. Seidman criticizes the potential financial and environmental impacts of a new Danskammer.

“Taken together, we feel that this shows that Danskammer really represents a profit grab by Wall Street interests that are tied to some of the worst elements of the Trump administration and who have histories of using their wealth and power to pursue an agenda that hurts working people in their communities,” says Seidman. “And we feel that if he really, truly wants to be a climate progressive and a real opponent of the Trump agenda that Governor Cuomo really has no choice but to reject this proposal.”

The expected Danskammer permit application comes as New York works to find replacement power for when the Indian Point nuclear power plant closes by 2021.

The report is entitled, “Putting the Scam in Danskammer: Trump-linked Wall Street Billionaires Financing a Polluting Fracked Gas Plant and Sticking New Yorkers With the Bill.”