The release of a long-awaited study of Long Island’s power needs is expected in about a week, but that didn’t stop two LIPA trustees Wednesday from bemoaning its absence and expressing worry about its likely conclusions.
PSEG Long Island has been working on the so-called Integrated Resource plan since 2014, when it took over management of the LIPA system. The report at one point was expected by the end of 2015, but delays and new assumptions have pushed it back more than a year. A separate study on the feasibility of overhauling Long Island’s old power plants is also due by April 1.
At the end of Wednesday’s board meeting, LIPA trustee Jeff Greenfield said he has been “increasingly frustrated and disappointed” by the lack of briefings by PSEG on the plan, while expressing “great concern” about its apparent direction.
Signals of what the report may contain have become evident in recent days and weeks. PSEG at the board committee meeting Wednesday said green-energy sources on Long Island will have to more than triple to meet a state goal of 50 percent renewables by 2030. Solar and other green sources are now around 5 percent of Long Island’s power.
Paul Napoli, vice president for power markets at PSEG, said the green-power mix needs to increase by an additional 18 percent of the total mix by 2030 to meet the goal.
But that need to increase comes as LIPA has already acknowledged that demand for energy will remain essentially even with today’s levels over the next 20 years, after actually declining over the next few years. LIPA currently has capacity of 5,864 megawatts of power, most of it tied to old National Grid plants.
LIPA chief executive Tom Falcone told Greenfield, “The good news is we will be building new generation on Long Island, I guarantee it, because we have an obligation to meet the clean energy standard, so we have to build new clean reliable generation, there will be environmental benefits and CO2 benefits.”
Greenfield, who has previously expressed support for building a modern new plant at the E.F. Barrett power station in Island Park, said that while he supports increased solar and off-shore wind projects undertaken by LIPA, “they are extremely expensive and provide electricity intermittently” and are “not a substitute for new, modern, clean, highly efficient and cost-effective gas-fired” power plants.
Falcone said repowering studies of the old National Grid plants would be out by April 1, as required by law. But to justify the $36 million LIPA pays just in taxes on the Barrett plant each year, Falcone postulated, “We’d have to build a plant at least twice or three times the size of the current plant.”
Trustee Matthew Cordaro, who wrote a blueprint for “repowering” the old power plants, said, “I’ve been very anxious to see the results of the studies and examine the assumptions being used.” He said part of his frustration is “we pick up the paper and get snippets of this.”