The CVP Power Project: money for nothing

Posted 1/13/16

January 13, 2016 — While we don’t know exactly why the Millennium Pipeline Company bought 80 acres of land adjacent to the pipeline in the Town of Highland, we do know that Competitive …

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The CVP Power Project: money for nothing

Posted


January 13, 2016 —

While we don’t know exactly why the Millennium Pipeline Company bought 80 acres of land adjacent to the pipeline in the Town of Highland, we do know that Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) hopes to fuel a 650-megawatt power plant in the Orange County Town of Wawayanda with fracked gas shipped through the Millenium Pipeline.

The Wawayanda plant will sit on a 122-acre site and, according to the anti-CPV group Protect Orange, will include “two 275-foot smoke stacks… a near-million-gallon diesel tank, a 15,000-gallon ammonia tank… and a seven-mile lateral pipeline that will connect to the Millennium Pipeline in Minisink—all highly volatile and toxic facilities prone to leaks and explosions. They have now started attempting to survey for a seven-mile lateral pipeline [from the Millennium Pipeline].”

At least one of the prominent organizers in Protect Orange was also an organizer in the group Stop Minisink Compressor Station. In that effort, campaigners tried to convince Millennium to construct a compressor station a few miles away from the preferred site, which would have meant the expected contamination would have been unleashed in a nearly empty area without hundreds of families living nearby. But Millennium won the battle, the station was built, and in June 2015, one family walked away from a $200,000 investment in their home because of negative health impacts.

This new battle once again pits the neighbors against a wealthy corporation, which has donated heavily to political campaigns, and has been working for about 10 years on this project, which would be located on the very busy Route 6 in Orange County close to residential areas, schools and farms.

Many of the perceived dangers are similar to those posed by the Minisink compressor station or worse. Once again from information from Protect Orange: “The plant will emit 2.1 million tons of CO2 (equivalents) per year, which is equivalent to 210 coal trains, and is .037 % of the entire annual U.S. CO2e [CO2 equivalent] emissions. The plant will also emit 750 tons annually of [various other pollutants, which] are known carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors.”

But perhaps just as interesting as the possible negative health impacts is the fact that, because of the current availability of electricity in the region, the power plant could not be supported by the private market and therefore could only go forward if CPV got a contract from the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) saying the authority agrees to purchase electricity produced by the plant.

This became apparent in a letter from Jurgen Wekerle, co-chairman of the Sterling Forest/Highlands Committee, and Randolph Hurst, of the Ramapo/Catskill Group Conservation Committee, to two administrative law judges with the New York Public Service Commission in June 2014.

The letter explained that CPV, in all of its permit applications, had said that the project would be supported by private financing. But the letter said later, “CPV Vice Chairman Steve Remillard has confessed that CPV cannot obtain financing on the merits of the proposal and must, instead, rely on a take-or-pay contract with New York Power Authority (NYPA). Such a government agency contract, which has not been offered by NYPA to CPV, would guarantee the bonding required to finance the project.”

So the question might become: Is the electricity from the plant really needed? In another letter from Wekerle to various people, mostly explaining that shutting down the Indian Point Power Plant would not leave the region with an insufficient supply of electricity, Wekerle argued that even if Indian Point were shuttered, the oversupply would remain because of recent developments.

He wrote, “If we already have a sufficient supply of electricity, let alone an ‘oversupply’ as noted above, and if existing power plants are experiencing shrinking sales and financial hardship, how can new proposed power sources such as… CPV… expect to be financially viable in an already saturated power supply market?”

One of the main arguments used by opponents against the CVP plant in Wawayanda is that if fracking is too dangerous to be done in New York, why is fracked gas safe enough to be burned in a 650-megawatt power plant? A similar question could be asked about fracked gas moving through compressor stations, especially when the need for it seems dictated not by the real needs of end users, but by the desire of large corporations to bolster their bottom lines with taxpayer-funded corporate welfare.

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