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Caithness II backers rally in Coram

Supporters of the planned Caithness II project in

Supporters of the planned Caithness II project in Yaphank rally at the Coram firehouse on March 25, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

Several hundred supporters of plans to build a big new power plant in Yaphank packed the Coram fire house Wednesday to demand that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo make the plant a priority.

Labor, political and school officials took aim at PSEG Long Island and its New Jersey parent in calling for the Caithness II plant to move forward now. PSEG last year said that neither the Caithness II plant nor any new major power sources were needed until at least 2020.

Officials at the rally repeatedly suggested that PSEG's finding likely will result in more power being bought from off-island sources, including PSEG plants in the tri-state area.

"We certainly don't need a company from another state coming and telling us what is good for us," said Daniel Tomaszewski, president of the Longwood school board and head of the newly formed Coalition for a Brighter Long Island.

Tomaszewski called PSEG's decision to shelve Caithness II "the biggest mistake that was ever made," and called on Cuomo to intervene in the matter. The district stands to get most of $13 million in annual tax payments from LIPA ratepayers for hosting Caithness II if the plant operates.

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the "recommendations we made last year are saving our customers billions of future dollars because we determined that additional generating projects didn't need to be built. Our thorough analysis of energy usage has shown that the best way to manage electricity needs is by helping our customers be more energy efficient and use less power -- not making them pay to produce more when it isn't needed."

Richard O'Kane, who heads the Building Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk, noted the hundreds of workers at the rally. "The reason you're able to get here on a moment's notice is you all need jobs," he said. O'Kane urged union members to call state officials "and make them build this thing."

Ross Ain, president of Caithness Long Island Energy, didn't speak at the rally, but said in an interview, he said he was "delighted with the level of support" at the rally.

"The community is starting to understand what's at stake here," Ain said.

Cuomo's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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