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PSEG: No new major power source necessary until at least 2024

According to a PSEG attorney, executive pay for

According to a PSEG attorney, executive pay for PSEG Long Island's 18 top officials, including its president David Daly, is not subject to state scrutiny or public disclosure because of provisions in the LIPA Reform Act. Credit: Steve Pfost

Ratepayers won't have to pay for a major new Long Island power source until at least 2024 -- two years later than previously projected, a PSEG Long Island official said Tuesday.

At a session of the Long Island Regional Planning Council at Hofstra University, PSEG Long Island president David Daly said the recently updated forecast builds on the company's previous findings that Long Island Power Authority contracted for far more electrical capacity than it needed.

"We have too many [capacity] contracts and too many power plants," Daly told the council.

The new forecast is based on PSEG's ongoing analysis of regional power needs and on a new estimate from the New York Independent System Operator, which administers state power markets, he said.

Delaying a new power plant or undersea power cable would forestall spending millions of dollars.

Daly repeated PSEG's previous findings that LIPA had secured far more energy capacity than was needed. All big utilities plan to have adequate power for all but a single day in a 10-year period. LIPA's planning increased that number to a day's outage every 1,000 years, Daly said.

As reported in Newsday last year, PSEG's preliminary analysis found that LIPA between 2005 and 2013 had an average of 528 megawatts of excess power annually above state capacity requirements -- the equivalent of the output of nearly two new power plants. Some years, according to the analysis, the excess approached 1,000 megawatts. A megawatt powers about 800 homes.

While the cost of the surplus varied by year, PSEG, which manages the electric grid for LIPA, said the average cost of the 528 megawatt excess was about $71 million a year, or about $641 million over the nine years.

Despite the excess, PSEG is pushing ahead with LIPA plans to add scores of renewable and other power sources well before 2020. This year, it will follow through on LIPA's plan to add 120 megawatts of solar arrays on large tracts in Suffolk County, including in Kings Park and Manorville.

PSEG also will put out a new bid request for 160 megawatts of renewable power this year. In the shorter term, PSEG will seek bids for solutions to meet power deficiencies on the South Fork and in Far Rockaway. The shortage on the South Fork is about 50 megawatts.

Regional council chairman John Cameron questioned why LIPA appeared to be putting "all its renewable eggs in the solar basket," referring to the utility's recent rejection of offshore wind in favor of 11 big solar projects.

Daly said the decision was on a recommendation by LIPA staff but noted that several future bid requests would consider whatever renewable technology best fits the need at the lowest cost.

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