The Long Island Power Authority plans to demolish and rebuild the Port Jefferson power station starting in 2018 if the project is economically feasible, according to LIPA's top official.
Chief executive John McMahon, in a March 26 letter to state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), provided a timeline for the proposed upgrade of the 63-year-old plant, which village residents have rallied around to ensure its long-term viability.
The plant "is expected to be repowered in time to supply needed resources in 2022," McMahon wrote LaValle.
McMahon said the plant "would be shut down in 2018 and demolished and rebuilt in place." He said the plan is based on "currently projected demand growth and [LIPA's energy] supply situation, all of which is dynamic and subject to change, and assuming that the plant can be repowered with acceptable economics." The letter includes a detailed chart of LIPA's current and future power needs.
Under the timeline, a total of 405 megawatts of power from Port Jefferson would be taken offline in 2018. After four years' construction, 346 megawatts would be added back in 2022.
LaValle said that in discussions with LIPA, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's staff and plant owner National Grid, he was told the plant would continue to operate until it is demolished.
A 2009 study commissioned by LIPA put the cost to overhaul the Port Jefferson plant at more than $685 million.
The plan still includes LIPA contracting for 716 megawatts from a new Caithness II facility in Yaphank by 2018.
One megawatt provides power for around 800 homes.
Village residents recently took aim at the Caithness II proposal, concerned that building such a large plant would make a repowered Port Jeff unnecessary.
LaValle said he was encouraged by the proposed plan for the Port Jefferson plant, but had questions about the excess capacity from Caithness II. His attempt to limit LIPA's ability to contract for excess power in the state budget bill was unsuccessful.
"I'm encouraged that we keep taking baby steps and I had hoped for a little more, but I think we're making progress," LaValle said. "For the first time they actually did a time line that had Port Jefferson" included in the long-term resource plan.
LaValle said he supported Caithness II at 350 megawatts to 400 megawatts. But the 700-megawatt-plus scenario, "I think is far too optimistic an amount of power and the amount of money LIPA is spending," he said.
The Caithness II project is expected to cost more than $3 billion. A LIPA spokesman declined to comment Monday. Caithness has also declined to comment.
Matthew Cordaro, a former energy executive who drew up the first plan to overhaul the former Long Island Lighting Co. power plants in 2002, including Port Jefferson's, called the proposal to repower Port Jefferson by 2022 "conceivable," even without Caithness II's fully proposed output.
"There's still a question about whether you need all that much power," said Cordaro, speaking personally and not in his capacity as a LIPA trustee. "Port Jefferson can be repowered without siting all that much power at Caithness."
But the LIPA power document suggests otherwise, noting that even with an overhauled Port Jefferson and Caithness II, LIPA would still be around 11 megawatts short come 2022.