Emissions produced by power plants in Northport and Port Jefferson have been reduced because of the completion of the first phase of a $100 million plant modernization effort, National Grid and Long Island Power Authority officials announced Wednesday.
The power plants are in the midst of an overhaul to reduce their emissions and fuel use. LIPA officials said the effort will be completed in three years.
The first phase of the work, which was completed this summer, included installing new steam turbine technology at the Northport plant and implementing nitrogen oxide control systems there and at the Port Jefferson plant, LIPA officials said.
Emission of nitrogen oxide, a precursor to smog formation in the summer months, was reduced by 40 percent, LIPA officials said. The improvements will cut carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions by about 25,000 tons per year, said Robert Teetz, National Grid's vice president, in a statement.
Kevin Law, LIPA's president, said the improvements are a "down payment" on the eventual repowering of the plants, an expensive endeavor that will require replacing old equipment.
"Any steps we can take to make them be more efficient, as far as using less fuel, saves us money," Law said.
Matthew Cordaro, an energy expert and former senior officer for Long Island Lighting Company, called the modernization effort "a near-term alternative," but said the long-term health of the plants is still in question.
"The modifications being done are definitely welcomed, but the question remains whether more needs to be done," he said.
The plant improvements were paid for as part of National Grid's acquisition agreement with KeySpan, which National Grid purchased in 2007, LIPA and National Grid officials said in a statement.
The 1,500-megawatt Northport plant, whose four 600-foot-tall stacks are a North Shore landmark that can be seen from Connecticut, was built in the 1960s and has been frequently criticized for excessive emissions. Several politicians, including Sen. Charles Schumer, have called for the plant to be modernized.
Rep. Tim Bishop, whose district includes the Port Jefferson plant, called on LIPA and National Grid to "continue these kinds of investments" Wednesday.