PSEG decision on Caithness II in Yaphank sparks mixed reactions from local officials

PSEG Long Island has found that the proposed

PSEG Long Island has found that the proposed Caithness II power plant in Yaphank "will not be needed." This is the Caithness I plant in Yaphank on Jan. 20, 2010. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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PSEG Long Island's recommendation to postpone construction of the Caithness II power plant in Yaphank left some local officials elated, while others expressed concern about potential lost tax revenue.

Port Jefferson officials, who feared adding the 752-megawatt plant would lead to the shuttering of a National Grid power plant in their village, said they supported the PSEG decision.

But a Longwood school district official said the recommendation means the district will not receive millions of dollars in tax payments the new plant would have generated.

PSEG determined the Caithness plant is not needed. Long Island Power Authority officials Wednesday called the recommendation "reasonable" and said they would not vote this year on the power purchase agreement necessary for the plant to move forward.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said Wednesday that PSEG's proposal would give village officials more time to convince LIPA to repower the rarely used National Grid facility. She said closing the plant, which provides about half the village's tax revenue, would force officials to consider tax and fee increases.

"I don't think it's the silver bullet that will get us repowered, but I think it helps," Garant said. "All along we've been saying our plant is needed, our plant is viable."

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The PSEG recommendation shocked Longwood officials, who had expected to receive up to $15 million in tax payments annually from the plant, school board president Daniel Tomaszewski said Wednesday.

"We're very, very disappointed because we believe this is a very sound project and eventually the people in the decision-making roles will realize that and do the right thing," he said. "It surprised me, it surprised everyone. It came out of nowhere."

The Brookhaven Town Board had voted 5-2 last month to approve a special permit for the plant, despite objections raised by civic and environmental activists.

Wednesday, Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, who voted against the permit, said he was gratified by the PSEG decision. "We should only build what we need," he said.

Councilman Daniel Panico said he may bill PSEG for "all of the time taken by various departments here in the town" to prepare environmental assessments of the plant. A town spokesman said Caithness Long Island Energy had paid for the environmental reports.

Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who represents Yaphank, called the town review of the project "a huge waste of time."

With Mark Harrington

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