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Long Island

PSEG Utility 2.0 plan draws cross-section of input

PSEG Long Island crews work to transfer power

PSEG Long Island crews work to transfer power lines to new utility poles along Montauk Highway in West Islip on Thursday, July 10, 2014. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Cornell Cooperative Extension wants PSEG Long Island to plant more shade trees to cut energy use.

Northport Village officials want the utility to overhaul the 60-year-old power plant in their backyard.

And a state independent power-producers group, concerned about effects on market competition, wants PSEG to delay its Utility 2.0 energy-savings plan until next year. Environmentalists want it expanded to include more clean energy.

A broad cross-section of special interests have weighed in on PSEG's $200 million proposal to cut energy use in documents recently filed with the state, some commending it as "thoughtfully researched," while others found some conclusions "deeply flawed."

Whether PSEG gets to implement all its ideas is up to LIPA trustees and the Department of Public Service, which is weighing the 10-year plan and its costs. As currently written, PSEG would recoup $122 million for its 10-year, $200 million investment in programs such as remote thermostat controls, solar panels, free air conditioners for Far Rockaway high-rises, power-saving education and other efficiency measures.

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir wouldn't comment on specific proposals, but said: "The feedback and dialogue received on the first draft of our plan is encouraging. We are currently reviewing all of the comments received and are in the process of updating and revising our plan in advance of our second technical conference scheduled for mid-October."

Julia Bovey, director of the Department of Public Service Long Island office, said she has read "every comment" filed with the department and said any program in Utility 2.0 "has to pass a cost-benefit analysis."

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County in its filing proposes a plan to give residents "a choice of a free shade tree . . . to plant on the western side of their home" to provide enough shade to reduce summer air conditioning costs, according to a letter from Gregory Sandor, the group's interim executive director. It cites a program in effect in Sacramento, California, that has planted more than 500,000 trees near 175,000 homes and other buildings for an annual savings of about 7 megawatts. (A megawatt powers about 800 homes.)

The Independent Power Producers of New York urged PSEG to give "careful consideration" to the impact the Utility 2.0 proposals would have on competitive markets, particularly on Long Island, to "ensure that their integration will not affect negatively the substantial benefits provided by market-based generation."

The group also noted that New York State is working on a more comprehensive plan, and said it would be "a mistake" for PSEG to complete its plan in advance of the state's, which will be finished some time next year.

The New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, a trade group, said PSEG's plan "unduly limits" the role giant power-storage batteries can play in addressing peak demand. It called PSEG's analysis of the cost of the batteries "deeply flawed."

The consortium said its own cost estimates were 50 percent to 80 percent less than PSEG's. In addition, it asked that PSEG use battery storage with solar panel energy production to help get the most out of the solar arrays it plans to install.

Northport Village submitted a recently approved board resolution urging PSEG to include "an assessment of the feasibility of repowering the Northport power plant." The resolution noted that LIPA has filed a tax grievance that seeks to reduce the plant's assessed value by 90 percent, placing a "draconian financial burden" on ratepayers.

Sunnyvale, California-based Bloom Energy, a maker of fuel cells, said the PSEG plan "appears to virtually ignore the use of widely dispersed energy sources, also known as distributed generation," to improve reliability. Bloom called the PSEG plan "inconsistent" with lessons from superstorm Sandy and the state's energy vision, which calls for more dispersed energy sources to help protect customers from systemwide outages in storms, among other things.

Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, objected to PSEG's plan to build 125 megawatts of new oil-fired small power generators for peak use on the South Fork, calling it "inefficient," and asking that cleaner power units be considered.

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