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Opinion

Christine Pellegrino eyes State Senate race

Former New York State Assemb. Christine Pellegrino.

Former New York State Assemb. Christine Pellegrino. Photo Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

A possible new contender in Suffolk

Suffolk County Democrats lately have been eyeing the State Senate seat held by Republican Phil Boyle of Bay Shore. In 2018, former county lawmaker Louis D’Amaro made a spirited but losing run against Boyle.

Now, as rumors swirl about another D’Amaro campaign, a different Democrat is moving toward the starting gate: Former Assemb. Christine Pellegrino is gearing up to get into the race.

“I am exploring a run for the State Senate because I want to continue my work to represent my community,” Pellegrino, of West Islip, told The Point Wednesday. A former teacher, she ticked off a list of familiar issues including local control of schools, environmental protection, fighting the opioid epidemic and lowering property taxes.

The news was reported first on Twitter by NY1 Albany reporter Zack Fink, who included a screenshot of a flyer announcing a fundraiser for Pellegrino hosted by Assemb. Jo Anne Simon in on Oct. 1 Brooklyn. A bunch of other state lawmakers from the city are listed under the heading “Host Committee in Formation,” including city State Sens. James Sanders and Brian Kavanaugh and 12 Assembly members. plus two from Long Island, Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) and Taylor Darling (D-Hempstead). Suggested contribution levels range from $250 for a co-host to $2,500 for a co-chair.

“I’m grateful for her help,” Pellegrino said of Simon. “She’s someone who has mentored me and someone I look up to. I look at this as a wonderful gift.”

Pellegrino lost her Assembly seat to Republican Michael LiPetri in 2018.

Boyle, of Bay Shore, recently debunked the thinking among political insiders that he is not going to run again in 2020, saying he intends to stand for reelection again. 

One thing is for certain: The speculation about Boyle’s seat is now colored both red and blue.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Talking Point

Pricing out wind power

When state officials invited solicitations for offshore wind power in November, they planned to hand out contracts totalling 800 megawatts. In July, they made two awards for a total of 1,696 megawatts.

The reason they powered past their goal? Cost.

“The pricing was 40 percent better than NYSERDA had estimated,” Alicia Barton, president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said Wednesday.

That pricing, though, has yet to be divulged. Barton, who spoke at a Melville forum of the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, acknowledged that’s a “big question” that continues to come up and said the information would be released once contracts for Sunrise Wind (880 megawatts) and Empire Wind (816 megawatts) are completed.

“In the long run, we believe offshore wind will be cost competitive,” Barton said, in comparison with other renewables. “And we believe offshore wind will continue on the trajectory of other renewable sources that have plummeted in cost.” Over time, a spokeswoman later clarified, NYSERDA expects offshore wind to be competitive with fossil fuels, too.

Barton noted that New York’s commitment to getting 9,000 megawatts (9 gigawatts) of offshore wind by 2035 is part of a regional commitment to 20 gigawatts, including states like New Jersey (3.5 GW), Massachusetts (3.2 GW) and Connecticut (2 GW). But New York’s lopsided share, virtually all of which will be off the coast of Long Island, means the state “will be the undisputed leader in that market,” Barton said. “The goal for us is to translate that into supply-chain and job-creation leadership ... We’re unabashed in our position that New York will be the hub for the offshore wind industry.”

To highlight the potential, Barton cited a University of Delaware study that found that 20 gigawatts of offshore wind would mean as much as $70 billion in revenue for businesses in the supply chain.

To that end, Barton said NYSERDA will hold a supply-chain forum — formally, the Offshore Wind Technology and Training Workshop — on Nov. 15 at Farmingdale State College for businesses, colleges, training institutes and others to “have a conversation about how Long Island can participate in this opportunity.”

The audience clearly shared Barton’s excitement.

Matthew Aracich, president of the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council, talked about workers feeling better about the future when they are told, for example, that a particular project will bring a couple years of work.

“But for the first time in my lifetime,” Aracich told Barton, “you can say there’s a generation worth of work here. So I want to say, thank you.”

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Pencil Point

Not allowed

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Final Point

Elmont station is now on schedule

Helicopter rides and lawsuits notwithstanding, the redevelopment of Belmont Park is moving forward.

The latest step: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board is expected to vote next week on an amendment to the agency’s current 2015 to 2019 capital plan that would include a new Elmont train station along the Main Line, MTA sources told The Point Wednesday. 

The planned vote comes as the village of Floral Park has sued the state to stop the Belmont development. The village also has come under scrutiny for using a Nassau County police helicopter to fly over Belmont Park earlier this month. The village says the copter ride was to evaluate emergency evacuation planning for a nearby elementary school. County officials are investigating what they call a potential “misuse of police resources.” The flight may have violated protocol in part because it included a civilian — the school superintendent. 

Village officials took photos during the flight, which came just four days before the village filed a lawsuit. 

The MTA amendment would authorize the MTA to build the $105 million station. But the station won’t cost the MTA anything. The developers, who are building a new arena for the New York Islanders, a hotel, and retail at the site, would pay $30 million of the cost upfront, and would fund an additional $67 million of the station’s costs over time. The state would be responsible for the remaining $8 million.

The amendment of the current plan comes as the MTA board also prepares to vote on the authority’s next capital plan, which will run from 2020 to 2024.

The station is expected to be fully operational by 2022, with some service available by 2021. State officials hope Islanders fans and others will then take the train to get to and from Belmont. 

Too bad the fans won’t be able to take a helicopter to the game instead. Perhaps then, village officials would get on board.

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

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