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Mar 26, 2014 9:19 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Energy Firms Want To Build 'Peaker Plants' At North Sea Landfill

Mar 26, 2014 9:19 AM

A private power supply group has proposed placing large “peaker plant” generators on town-owned property at the North Sea landfill to help the Long Island Power Authority keep up with growing energy demands on the East End.

The companies—North Carolina-based Cogentrix Energy Power Management LLC and Garden City-based Global Common LLC—have asked the Southampton Town Board to endorse the placement of the generators at the landfill to head off the need for miles of new transmission wires across the East End.

The proposal presented to the Town Board during last week’s work session would locate two “twin pack” generators, each the size of a tractor trailer on stilts, and a third smaller generator on a portion of the landfill property now used primarily for composting. The generator system could infuse up to 135 megawatts of power to the electrical grid on the East End, which is now supplied primarily from up-island power plants and one small generator plant in Southampton that produces just nine megawatts at any given time.

The proposed generators, which stand some 60 feet tall when mounted on scaffolding, would be accompanied by a 500,000 gallon diesel fuel tank, holding enough fuel to run the generators for two full days.

The so-called peaker plant generators would not be in operation at all times. They would be switched on remotely by LIPA/PSEG Long Island in the event of a sudden loss of some normal power transmission capacity, or when demand overtakes the region’s supply. According to representatives of the two companies proposing the generators, the number of hours that the peaker plants would run a year would be capped by environmental controls, based primarily on emissions standards for starting up the giant motors.

A similar system installed in Greenport, also owned by Global Common, has a contractual cap of 2,000 hours of operation each year. Over the last five years it has operated between 500 and 1,000 hours a year, Global Common CEO Robert Foxen told board members.

Despite their substantial size, the part-time use and efforts to screen the generators from sight makes them largely unnoticeable for residents, Mr. Foxen pitched.

“The residents in Greenport, I’m not sure are even aware that plant is there,” he said. “This plant would be very similar. It would be tucked away in a wooded area.”

He noted that the generators are also typically surrounded by noise-dampening enclosures.

But Town Board members doubted that there was as much separation from residential areas in North Sea as there is in Greenport, where the supplemental generators sit adjacent the village’s full-time independent power plant. The companies have proposed placing the new generators on a back corner of the landfill property, in an area now utilized for composting.

In a request for proposals issued by LIPA, the utility said it needed to provide an additional 200 megawatts of peak-output energy capacity to the East End’s power grid. Four outdated existing substations on the South Fork are due to be taken off-line in the near future.

If a suitable community to house the new power plants cannot be found, LIPA has said it would need to expand its system of high-tension transmission lines to bring more power to the region from western plants.

The request for proposals deadline is Monday, March 31, and the utility is to make its decision regarding how it plans to proceed by the end of the year. The utility has also asked for proposals to generate 280 megawatts of renewable-source energy production, enough juice to power as many as 140,000 homes a year.

“LIPA has said they need 200 megawatts to avoid the need for additional transmission [lines],” Mr. Foxen said. “If they don’t get to that minimum, they wouldn’t accept the proposals and would go ahead and build the transmission.”

Board members gingerly approached the idea of placing the large generators in what is generally a residential neighborhood, despite the presence of the landfill. But they also acknowledged and said they understood the need for more energy supplies on the South Fork and the potential concerns about turning to transmission rather than local generation.

“All of this comes with the understanding that, as we are currently wired, LIPA or PSEG is operating under the assumption that we are underserved and that the demand for power will only continue to grow,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst said. “It’s important to understand the implications of doing or not doing things of this sort, both in terms of [energy needs] during peak hours and also with weather-related issues, storms when we’ve found ourselves without power for long lengths of time.”

East Hampton Village is currently embroiled in negotiations with LIPA and PSEG, the latter of which now manages Long Island’s power supply infrastructure, over burying new transmission lines in its residential neighborhoods, even as crews continue to hang new lines on the oversized poles throughout the town and village. Six years ago Southampton Town residents battled with LIPA over new transmission lines, which are hung from poles about twice the size of typical utility poles. The town ultimately negotiated the burying of the lines by agreeing to pay the millions in additional costs of placing them underground through a special tax on area residents.

Mr. Foxen and Cogentrix representative Jeff Freeman said the two companies would bring the details of their proposal to any community groups or forums that invited them. “The community has to be comfortable with it,” Mr. Freeman said.

North Sea Citizens Advisory Committee member Dan Gebbia was in the audience for last week’s presentation and said he was concerned that North Sea was getting a double dose of negative impacts, pointing to the plan to install the generators at a landfill.

“Naturally, we’re going to have a lot of concerns about this,” he said. “It is one of the major transfer stations and we’re going to get more development on that property. I’m also concerned about having that much diesel fuel associated with it. That site has been damaged already.”

Attorney Steve Latham, who is representing Cogentrix and Global Common, said the companies would meet with area residents, collect their concerns and work on addressing them before any agreement with the town would be made.

“We’re not coming here to rape and pillage,” Mr. Freeman said. “Nobody likes change. We represent change. We recognize this. We will do everything we can to be responsible with what we bring into your neighborhood, because we recognize this is your home.”

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Frankly, I'd rather see a CSP to harness clean solar.

More dirty power.
By Mr. Z (11676), North Sea on Mar 26, 14 11:01 PM
They may wish that but its not going to happen. 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel is just a distaster waiting to happen. The off shore wind option is the only other option, or perhaps they can rent space from the Wrecklers at the airbase or they can include it in their pdd for the canal condo project.
By North Sea Citizen (564), North Sea on Mar 28, 14 6:46 AM