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National Grid wants to raise power output at 2 small plants

The National Grid power plant on Shore Road

The National Grid power plant on Shore Road in Glenwood Landing, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

National Grid at hearings this week proposed raising the power output of two sets of small power generators beyond their current limits, but at least one meeting became a forum for criticism of LIPA’s attempts to reduce power plant taxes.

The small generators at Glenwood Landing and Port Jefferson are used to provide energy primarily during peak-power periods. These so-called peaking plants are currently limited to 79.9 megawatts, but National Grid is seeking state approval to uncap their current power production to 94 megawatts. A megawatt powers from 800 to 1,000 homes.

At a hearing before an administrative law judge for the Public Service Commission in Port Jefferson Wednesday, around 100 local residents packed village hall and speakers criticized the plan.

Deputy Mayor Larry LaPointe accused LIPA of “increasing their ability to shut down the main plant in Port Jefferson” by drawing more power from the smaller units. He accused LIPA of “throwing the people of Port Jefferson under the bus.” The village and Brookhaven Town have been attempting to negotiate an agreement to more gradually reduce the $28 million LIPA pays in lieu of taxes on the Port Jefferson plant.

Brookhaven town supervisor Edward Romaine said that while he was in favor of increasing the power of the peaker plants, he requested an investigation into LIPA’s assertions that it has ample power on Long Island even as National Grid seeks to produce more.

A LIPA spokesman declined comment.

National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said the generators, constructed in 2002, have “advanced emissions controls and are the most-efficient peaking options in the National Grid fleet.” She said increasing their output to 94 megawatts would require no modifications to equipment or costs.

The plants currently are under contract to LIPA under a $5 billion, 20-year power purchase agreement.

Even with an increased power limit, Ladd said there’s no guarantee LIPA will use the plants more. PSEG and LIPA recently reported that peak power usage is expected to decline on Long Island over the next few years, and remain relatively steady for the next 20 years.

“We can’t predict how these units will be dispatched in the future,” Ladd said. “But removing the operational restrictions will provide additional capacity to serve Long Island from two of the most-efficient peaking facilities in our fleet.”

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