HUDSON — The city has become the 19th municipality on the Hudson River to oppose the $400 million Danskammer power plant expansion in Newburgh.

The plan involves building a gas-fired power plant adjacent to an existing peaker plant. The addition would provide more than 500 megawatts of generating capacity.

Peaker plants generally run only when there is high, or peak, demand for electricity. The new addition would run year-round.

The new project is located in a flood-prone area on the shore of the Hudson River, which could present serious dangers to both public health and the environment, the nonprofit environmental activist group Food and Water Watch said.

“It is great news that Hudson is joining communities up and down the Hudson River Valley that are standing up to say no to this dirty, polluting power plant,” said Food & Water Action organizer Emily Skydel. “In the midst of a deadly pandemic that is especially dangerous to populations exposed to air pollution, it would be irresponsible to allow this project to go forward.”

Opponents have emphasized the plant’s potential impact on local air pollution and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act on July 18, 2019. The initiative set a goal of using 100% carbon-free electricity statewide by 2040.

This has led to an influx of solar and wind farms throughout the region, including the proposed Flint Mine Solar in Coxsackie and Shepherds Run Solar in Copake.

But according to a Danskammer presentation, there are no renewable energy projects in the lower Hudson Valley that would match the job projections.

The repowering of Danskammer is subject to approval by the state Board of Electric Generation siting and the Environment under Article 10 of the Public Service Law.

Danskammer filed Public Involvement Program plans in May 2018, then held open houses in December.

“A repowered and modernized Danskammer Energy Center is cleaner and better for the environment,” according to the open house presentation.

The new facility would require 50% less fuel, according to the company, and it would have the ability to start and stop on demand, which would reduce emissions by up to 90%, compared to the current ramp-up time of 12 hours.

Additionally, the installation of an air cooling system would eliminate use of Hudson River water for cooling.

In February 2019, a Preliminary Scoping Statement was filed, which was followed by comments from the Siting Committee.

In April 2019, Danskammer filed responses to the comments and began the intervenor funding process, which is intended to pay back municipalities and local parties for incurred expenses during the process.

Throughout the summer of 2019, studies were conducted, according to the Danskammer website.

In September, the Proposed Stipulations were filed, followed by the Article 10 application.

The Common Council passed a resolution at its May 19 meeting expressing the city’s opposition to the proposal to repower the Danskammer Generating Station in Newburgh.

“The City of Hudson Common Council voted unanimously in opposition of the Danskammer proposal,” 1st Ward Alderwoman Rebecca Wolff said. “From all sides of the city we understand that renewable energy is our future, and gas-fired power plants are the past.”

The proposal if approved, will continue the state’s reliance upon fossil fuels and will not promote the state’s climate change policy, according to the city council resolution.

“Climate change presents a clear and present danger to the City of Hudson, as well as the state and country, that requires government agencies to not approve projects that only incrementally improve the environmental efficiency of existing faciities,” according to the resolution. “Instead, the Public Service Commission should only approve renewable energy facilities and not approve fossil fuel burning power generators that endanger health and the environment.”

During the Siting Board’s review, hearings will be scheduled for public comment.

“We urge continued investment in renewable and energy storage technologies that are safe, sustainable and will help New York state meet its nation-leading climate goals, which include eliminating all fossil-fuel based electricity generation by 2040,” said Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson director of environmental advocacy. “The Hudson Valley’s environmental legacy began with the landmark defeat of a power plant proposed for Storm King Mountain. What a terrible irony it would be if the last fossil-fuel power plant built in the state ends up just a few miles upriver.”

Hudson joins Suffern, Newburgh, Beacon, Kingston, Peekskill, village and town of New Paltz, Cold Spring, Saugerties, Philipstown, Rosendale, Esopus and New Castle in opposing the project.

“Instead of listening to science and communities up and down the Hudson River Valley that have formally come out against the power plant, Danskammer decided to push ahead with this reckless proposal,” Food and Water Watch organizer Andrew Pezzullo said. “This dirty infrastructure flies directly in the face of the climate goals just signed into law by Gov. Cuomo this summer. The governor has the authority to stop this plant, and we will make sure he does.”

Abby Hoover is a reporter for the Register-Star. Contact her at ahoover@registerstar.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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