LIPA logo for FollowLI.

LIPA logo for FollowLI. Credit: Newsday/Handout

Opponents of a proposed Kings Park power plant were relieved Thursday when the Long Island Power Authority decided to explore building a new facility elsewhere.

Utility officials Thursday announced plans to begin negotiating with developers for a 377-megawatt natural-gas plant in Shoreham or a 706-megawatt facility beside the new Caithness plant in Yaphank. LIPA rejected a Maryland company's proposal to build a 400-megawatt gas-fired plant in Kings Park. Residents of the hamlet and nearby Commack and Fort Salonga had begun organizing opposition to the proposal.

"The system works. I'm very gratified," said Mark Seratoff, of the Townline Association civic group, which fought the project. "There are more appropriate alternatives."

The Shoreham and Yaphank sites were chosen based on criteria such as cost, location, contract issues, availability of fuel supply and the possibility of opposition from governing bodies such as town boards, said Paul DeCotis, LIPA's vice president of power markets. He would not discuss whether public opposition played a role in LIPA's rejecting Kings Park.

"The Caithness project and the [Shoreham] project were tied in rank," he said. "There's not a single criterion that would force a project in or out."

LIPA also did not choose Kings Park for a proposed battery storage facility. The plant would have stored excess electricity from the power grid for sale to LIPA. DeCotis declined to discuss the proposal. Opponents said they feared the health effects of the gas-fired plant. Residents in 2002 had fought a proposal for a 300-megawatt plant, which LIPA also rejected.

"It's not a good site for a power plant, period, end of story," said community activist Linda Henninger. "It wasn't a good site for a power plant 10 years ago, and it won't be a good site for a plant today."

In June, dozens of people voiced opposition to the plant at a Smithtown town planning board meeting on an unrelated zoning proposal."Some elected officials can stop sweating around here," said Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, who had refused to take a public position on the plant until a formal proposal was submitted to the town.

The Huntington Town board voted in August to oppose the plant.