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Huntington to form a panel to study repowering of LIPA's Northport plant

The Northport power plant is shown on Tuesday,

The Northport power plant is shown on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Credit: James Carbone

The Town of Huntington will form a nine-person committee to provide local perspective as the Long Island Power Authority considers overhauling its Northport plant.

Town council members voted unanimously Tuesday to establish the "Repower Now Citizens Committee," which officials said would focus on a LIPA feasibility study for repowering Northport's aging power plant.

The state is requiring LIPA to pay for studies to evaluate "engineering, environmental-permitting and cost-feasibility" of three Long Island plants, including Northport.

Repowering is an infrastructure improvement in which part or all of each generating unit at a power plant is replaced with new equipment. The outcome is a more efficient system that can deliver the same or greater output.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said repowering could be a negotiation opportunity for Huntington in an ongoing legal battle in which LIPA officials argue the plant has been over-assessed by the town for years.

"The leverage here is, we're improving the plant, we're improving its . . . taxable value," Petrone said after the meeting. "Now, that is a negotiable item. . . . Let me work with you to repower, to improve, and we'll freeze your tax rate."

LIPA wants reductions in the millions it pays annually in taxes to local governments. A win for LIPA would amount to devastating revenue cuts, particularly for the Northport-East Northport School District.

Petrone expects the members of the committee to be selected by the fall, and that he hopes they produce an advisory white paper for the town council by the end of the year. Officials would then decide on recommendations for LIPA.

The Huntington committee will include at least one member from Northport and Asharoken villages and a representative from Northport schools. The resolution also calls for people with backgrounds in engineering and sustainable energy to participate in the committee.

LIPA must begin Northport's study by Oct. 1, 2018.

National Grid and LIPA completed studies on repowering plants in Northport, Port Jefferson and Island Park in 2009. It found the cost of repowering Northport would be $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion.

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