Danskammer Energy Proposal Brings Concerned Citizens
By James McVey
Town of Newburgh – A plan to revitalize existing energy infrastructure drew a crowd on Monday, January 28 at a Town of Newburgh workshop meeting. The room was quite crowded, and it soon became clear that item 6 on the agenda, “Danskammer Presentation”, was the reason for the strong turnout.
Following the pledge of allegiance and moment of silence, Town Supervisor of the Town of Newburgh, Gil Piaquadio addressed the room stating “Danskammer Energy is here tonight to present its project to the Town Board. The project is to repower the Danskammer electric generating station. Not being a public hearing, there were to be no questions or comments from the public. The Town did, however, invite e-mail questions in advance. At the conclusion of the presentation the board held true to their word, launching both personal questions and pre-submitted questions from the public to the representatives of Danskammer Energy LLC.
Town Supervisor, Piaquadio, made it clear that, “The repowering project is in the Town of Newburgh, but the town has no authority to approve or deny it. State law places energy projects of this size in a review process managed by the State’s Public Service Commission and gives approval authority to a Siting Board consisting mostly of state officials.”
Bill Reid, CEO of Danskammer Energy LLC introduced himself and his team to the room, Reid ensured that the visual presentation could be seen by the public as well as the board. Very early on in the presentation, Bill Reid told the crowd that this was the first of what will be a series of 40+ informative sessions provided to the public, about the project’s plans. Some people had issues with the idea of building new infrastructure, but Reid allayed this concern saying, “We will not need any new infrastructure, or new transmission towers. We will not replace, we will upgrade what is already there.” He emphasized their intent to make something that already exists, and is already used, and increase both its efficiency and capacity to run for more consecutive hours if the need arises. The need is expected to rise because of planned closure of Indian Point nuclear power plant in 2021.
What does this mean for the future of Newburgh? Over the next 20 years, $50 million would be generated in property and school taxes. The Hudson River would, he said, not be used during the cooling process. Instead, they would be using air. Reid painted the picture of, “big fans”. Project engineer, Jan Garcia, gave some precise numbers such as, 536 Megawatts would be the potential power generated by the site, with 64 additional Megawatts when needed”. The old station produced between 10-11k BTU, which will be reduced to 6,000 BTU, a decrease of over 40%. The fourth quarter of 2023 is the projected date of commercial use. The process is outlined in four steps: 1) Air cooled condensers 2) steam turbine 3) gas turbine 4) heat recovery steam generator.
Michael Keller, of TRC, an environmental consulting firm, was there to vouch for the studies and data concerning environmental impact and emissions. As presented, almost all types of environmental impact dropped by upwards of 50%, when examining the current infrastructure and comparing it to the proposed project’s plans. There is a Department of the Environment regulated landfill on the property, which has been the subject of environmentalists concern.
In theory, these adaptations would lead to lower electric prices, but Reid made it clear, “We sell electricity at market price”, and Danskammer Energy LLC does not determine the market price for electricity. He also announced, “We are seeking no tax breaks, and are entirely privately funded.” He added, “We believe this project is no threat at all to the Hudson River or local community. We need to prove it and intend to try and do that”. The public, he said, is welcomed by Danskammer to visit their office located at 181 South Plank Road, operating hours are 9am-2pm Monday through Friday as well as every other Saturday, to pose any questions or request information about the project.
Other news from the town board meeting includes a delay in the acceptance of credit cards, and more testing of FOIL tracking software. The delay occurred in the interest of the safety of the public’s privacy but is still expected to be up in running in a few months. Bids for sludge removal and for water treatment chemicals will be advertised soon. Most of the sewer charges and services will be left as is.
Caption: Bill Reid, CEO of Danskammer Energy LLC led much of the presentation.
(Photos by James McVey)