Port Jefferson lobbies to save LIPA plant

Ratepayers confronted LIPA Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, over Ratepayers confronted LIPA Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, over its new proposal for billing that would allow it to recover all its fuel expenses each month based on real-time costs rather than annual estimates. This meter is in Greenport. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona, 2011

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The mayor of Port Jefferson Village and three other top local officials are scheduled to travel to Albany Wednesday to meet with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's staff to discuss ways to preserve and upgrade the Port Jefferson Power Station.

The talks come on the heels of statements by Cuomo that an overhaul of a "bloated" Long Island Power Authority is pending, even as LIPA is nearing crucial decisions on future power sources, including the 64-year-old Port Jefferson plant. The plant can produce 362 megawatts of power.

Mayor Margot Garant will lead the contingent of two school district officials and village trustee Larry LaPointe. It's the latest of many efforts by the village to keep the plant active. LIPA pays around $29 million annually in taxes to the Port Jefferson community for hosting the plant -- funding that provides just less than half the school budget. "My community is on tenterhooks," said Garant.

She said the discussion could include legislation that would provide incentives for developers to upgrade aging power plants through the state's brownfield cleanup program.

The meeting was arranged by state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who has sponsored legislation to provide the incentives, although the measure didn't survive the 2012 budget cycle. LaValle, who said he will attend the meeting, described the talks as at a "delicate" stage, and declined to comment beyond saying the discussions would let "people with a grievance bring that to their government."

A spokesman for Cuomo didn't return a call, and a Long Island Power Authority spokesman declined to comment.

LIPA trustees could vote as soon as this month on a proposal to renew the authority's power supply agreement with National Grid, which owns the Port Jefferson plant and 14 others. The contract, which expires in May, could include the option to repower certain plants, sources have said.

The village filed a federal complaint July 30 against National Grid, charging the company's goals are to "coerce" LIPA into an "uneconomic long-term extension of its existing power supply agreement, and to otherwise foreclose opportunities to repower Long Island's existing generation facilities."

National Grid, in a response filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency, called the complaint "frivolous."

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