Key approvals for Caithness II power plant up for vote this week

An aerial photo of LIPA's Caithness facility in An aerial photo of LIPA's Caithness facility in Yaphank shows the large rectangular parcel about the same size as the plant directly adjacent to the now operating facility on June 6, 2013. Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

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A controversial proposal to build a second power plant in Yaphank is expected to receive key approvals from Brookhaven Town this week.

The town board has scheduled a vote Tuesday night on a special permit to build the 752-megawatt Caithness II plant, which would be next to the existing 350-megawatt Caithness plant near the Sills Road exit of the Long Island Expressway.

And the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency is expected to vote Wednesday on a $59 million tax break package for Caithness II, including relief from some state and county sales taxes.

Caithness II, which is planned for 2018 and would sell power to the Long Island Power Authority, is being reviewed for feasibility and necessity by PSEG Long Island.

Supporters, including most Brookhaven Town Board members, have said Caithness II would meet future power needs on Long Island and allow for the refurbishing of an existing 350-megawatt National Grid plant in Port Jefferson. A Brookhaven Town study found Caithness II "will not result in significant adverse environmental impacts."

The plant has faced opposition from civic activists, unions and elected officials over its cost and potential environmental impacts. In addition, Port Jefferson Village officials have said they may sue to block the new plant, because they fear it could lead to the Port Jefferson plant being shuttered rather than refurbished.

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Port Jefferson trustee Bruce Miller said renovating the existing plant would save ratepayers $127 million per year, while Caithness II would raise rates about 3 percent.

"It's also going to be harmful to all of Long Island," Miller said. "There's going to be a huge expense here that LIPA has just not been very forthcoming about."

Ross Ain, president of Caithness Long Island Energy, has said the tax package would produce reduced rates by lowering operating costs.

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