State approves Dutchess gas plant right before pump failure causes shutdown at Indian Point 2

State authorities have approved a new gas-fired power State authorities have approved a new gas-fired power plant for Dutchess County that will be located on abandoned industrial land of Route 22 in Dover. Construction on the new plant, the Cricket Valley Energy Center, could begin as early as 2014 and could have enough power to generate 800,000 homes. Even with the approval of the new plant, the state continues to weigh its options on the nuclear-powered Indian Point Energy Center, pictured above, which could be forced to close if its licenses are not renewed. Indian Point's owner, Entergy Corp., has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to grant a 20-year extension. (May 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A new, more environmentally friendly power plant is coming to Dutchess County after state authorities approved the facility Wednesday.

The Cricket Valley Energy Center will be a gas-fired plant constructed on abandoned industrial land off Route 22 in Dover. The plant will generate 1,000 megawatts, enough to power 800,000 homes. Construction could begin as early as 2014.

The plant comes at a time when the state is weighing its options should the Indian Point Energy Center -- a nuclear plant -- shut down if its licenses are not renewed. The plant's owner, Entergy Corp., has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to grant a 20-year extension.

On Wednesday, the New York State Public Service Commission approved the Dutchess County project, touting it as a way to provide cleaner energy while stabilizing the downstate power grid.

CLEANER POWER SOURCE

advertisement | advertise on newsday

In his 2012 State of the State address, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called for what he termed an "energy highway" to provide cleaner, more reliable power sources and give a much-needed boost to the state economy.

Cuomo has been outspoken in his desire to close Indian Point, which generates more than 2,000 megawatts, more than twice the amount of power that will be generated by the Cricket Valley Energy Center. Indian Point 2's license expires Sept. 28, and the license for the Indian Point 3 reactor unit will expire in December of 2015.

A few hours after the state announced it had approved the Cricket Valley plant, Entergy Corp. said Indian Point operators manually shut down the Indian Point 2 reactor after two pumps that send water to the plant's steam generators failed. Entergy said its employees were investigating the failure and said there was "no threat to the safety of workers or the public."

The pump failure happened when workers were testing a valve on the "non-nuclear side" of the power plant, Entergy said. Indian Point 2 previously had operated for 252 consecutive days without a shutdown, the company said, while Indian Point 3 has been running continuously for 104 days.

NY ENERGY HIGHWAY

The new Dutchess County plant "is consistent with the current state energy plan and advances recommendations of Cuomo's energy highway blueprint to accelerate investments in electric generation to strengthen system reliability while creating jobs and stimulating economic development," the Public Service Commission wrote in an announcement Wednesday.

The plant's location, about 25 miles east of Poughkeepsie and a few miles west of the Connecticut state border, has "a substantial tree buffer that will minimize visual and sound impacts," according to Cricket Valley, which is a subsidiary of Boston-based Advanced Power.

Plans have been in the works for about half a decade, and in October the state Department of Environmental Conservation issued the findings of its environmental impact study.

The plant will provide "an environmental and economic opportunity to rehabilitate an inactive industrial site, currently in disrepair, and return it to productive use," providing new tax revenues and an economic boost for Dover and Dutchess County, the DEC wrote.

Cricket Valley promised the state the plant would "directly" create about 300 construction jobs and 28 permanent jobs for power plant operators.

Cricket Valley and the Public Service Commission did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.

Sign up for the Opinion newsletter and get the latest analysis delivered to your inbox.

You also may be interested in: