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Talk of upgrade for LIPA’s Barrett power plant is pandering

A 2010 view of the E.F. Barrett power

A 2010 view of the E.F. Barrett power plant in Island Park. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The decision this week by Donald Clavin, Hempstead Town’s receiver of taxes, and Anthony D’Esposito, a town council member, to hold a news conference about the Long Island Power Authority was about as smart as stepping on a downed power line.

On Wednesday, the pair irresponsibly called on Nassau County not to settle a mega tax-assessment challenge on the E.F. Barrett power plant brought by LIPA. They also demanded that all Long Islanders pay dearly for a big new plant in Island Park that is not needed.

Politics should be unplugged from LIPA’s energy policies.

LIPA is negotiating with Brookhaven and Huntington towns and Nassau County to settle its legal challenges to excessive tax payments — about $189 million a year — on the Island Park, Glenwood Landing, Northport and Port Jefferson plants. Taxes on those plants amount to almost 6 percent of every LIPA ratepayer’s monthly bill, but the money mostly benefits just four school districts.

LIPA pays 47 percent of the tax bill in the Island Park school district, almost 20 times more than it should. In the settlement negotiations, it is even offering to pay about 10 percent more for the next eight years. And it is likely to pay taxes on batteries and smaller peaking plants it will build at the Barrett site in the years to come.

Former County Executive Edward Mangano was working on a settlement, and his successor, Laura Curran, is now looking at the daunting numbers. If LIPA wins, Nassau, because it guarantees tax refunds, would be on the hook for about $245 million.

D’Esposito and Clavin should stop pandering. Instead, try doing the hard work of finding ways to replace the funding the Island Park school district would lose. — The editorial board