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Freeport Electric jet engine undergoes $2 million improvement

The revamped engine is now even more efficient and better for the environment, officials say.

Freeport Village Mayor Robert Kennedy on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, explained how a modified 747 jet engine is used to help power the village and the Northeast grid as needed. The $2 million overhaul of the jet engine, which can also be used to power village homes in the event of an emergency, was completed on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (Credit: Newsday / Yeong-Ung Yang; Howard Schnapp)

Freeport Electric completed a $2 million overhaul of a jet engine Monday that is used to power the Northeast grid and village homes, officials said.

The LM6000 engine, which is the same as ones used in Boeing 747s, was purchased new in 2003 for $70 million, Mayor Robert Kennedy said in a news conference Monday at a village power plant. It underwent its first large-scale maintenance improvements over the past two weeks, after 16,000 hours of use. The recent repairs, which included taking the entire engine apart and rebuilding it, were not because anything was amiss but rather to be proactive.

“We hope to get many, many more years of service out of it,” Keith Muchnick, Freeport Electric’s assistant superintendent of power plants, said.

The engine provides power to the Northeast grid as necessary, often during times of high demand like the middle of summer or the dead of winter when more people are running appliances such as air conditioners or heaters, officials said. The engine runs for about 1,000 hours annually.

“We get paid to stand by and turn it on when it’s needed,” Kennedy said.

It can also be used to power village homes in the event of an emergency.

“We had power back on in 30 minutes during superstorm Sandy,” he said.

The jet engine is more efficient and environmentally friendly than the 1960s-era diesel systems — the same kinds as ones found in ships — the village previously used. The engine has an output of 50 megawatts while the diesel systems, which have been decommissioned, give out about 15 megawatts each, according to Al Livingston, Freeport Electric superintendent of electric utilities.

“The most important thing in a power plant is reliability and efficiency,” Kennedy said.

Village officials said the jet engine is the only one owned by a municipal utility company on Long Island. Rockville Centre and Greenport also have municipal power companies.

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