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Caithness permit for second power plant has expired, Brookhaven Town officials say 

The permit was issued in 2014 for a larger-megawatt plant that was never built and cannot be renewed, the town told the Manhattan-based utility in a letter.

An artist's rendering of the proposed Caithness II

An artist's rendering of the proposed Caithness II power plant, which would be built next to the existing Caithness plant in Yaphank. Photo Credit: TRC Environmental Corp.

Brookhaven officials have told Caithness Long Island that its permit to build a second power plant in Yaphank has expired.

The Manhattan-based power company has sought to build a 600-megawatt plant on Zorn Boulevard, using a permit issued by the town in 2014 for a 750-megawatt plant that was never built. The new plant would be built adjacent to an existing Caithness plant that opened in 2009.

But in a letter sent on Monday to Caithness president Ross D. Ain, Town Planning Director Tullio Bertoli said the permit for the second plant had expired and cannot be renewed.

Ain said in a statement the company was "looking into it, but believe it has no bearing and we look forward to the next steps before the [town] planning board.” 

Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said Caithness would be required to file a new application to build the plant.

The town's action comes a week after the town board lifted restrictions on the plant, saying a covenant limiting the types of power equipment allowed for the project were unnecessary.

In Monday's letter, Bertoli noted that Caithness had received a two-year permit in 2014 to build the plant, known as Caithness II, and had been issued two one-year extensions in 2016 and 2017. The last of those extensions expired on Sunday, Bertoli said.

"Since Caithness has been granted the maximum two extensions, ... the Caithness special permit has now expired," Bertoli wrote.

Four years ago the town board had approved the larger version of Caithness II, which would have supplied energy to Long Island Power Authority customers. That project was scuttled when PSEG Long Island, which operates the power grid for LIPA, said new power plants were not needed.

Earlier this year, Caithness proposed the smaller plant for the same site. Caithness officials had said power generated by the plant would be sold to power grids statewide and would provide backup power for solar and wind farms. Company officials said LIPA ratepayers would save $75 million a year.

Critics questioned whether the plant was needed and raised environmental concerns.

Brookhaven Councilman Michael Loguercio, who represents the area where Caithness II would have been located and supported the project, declined to comment on Bertoli's letter. But Loguercio said Caithness II "is a very important project to not only this community, but also to all of Long Island as we try to find ways to develop more affordable electric power.”

Eaderesto said Caithness might be required to seek permits from the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. The board was established in 2011 under Article 10 of the state Public Service Law to allow companies to seek power plant approvals from the state, rather than local authorities.

“It might have to go through that process instead of the town,” Eaderesto said.

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