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Gas-fired CPV Valley power plant comes online in New York

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The 680-MW CPV Valley Energy Center power plant in Orange County, N.Y.
Source: Competitive Power Ventures Holdings LLC

Competitive Power Ventures Holdings LLC's natural gas-fired CPV Valley Energy Center power plant in New York has begun commercial operation.

CPV announced Oct. 1 the operational start of the 680-MW facility in Wawayanda, N.Y., in Orange County, nearly two months after a New York Supreme Court judge sided with the developer in a permitting dispute by granting a request for an injunction that let the company go ahead with operating the plant as it awaits a pending court decision on its permit renewal. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, had refused to renew an air permit for the facility on the basis that it did not have a federal Title V air permit, and threatened fines against CPV for carrying on startup operations. As reported by the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., CPV told the DEC at a requested Sept. 26 hearing that the company believed it had one year after the full start of operations to obtain the federal air permit.

The DEC also attempted to derail the new Millennium Pipeline Company LLC natural gas lateral pipeline that will supply the plant by denying the line an air permit in August 2017, before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission overruled the state agency in September 2017. A March decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld FERC's rulings to allow the pipeline project to go forward without state approval.

"After nearly 10 years of development and construction, we are providing significant value to the area and New York," said CPV CEO Gary Lambert in a press release. "This facility will enhance the reliability of the Lower Hudson Valley electric system, reduce annual electricity costs to New York consumers by a forecasted $700 million while reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 500,000 tons a year."

The CPV Valley plant is specifically meant to replace some of the approximately 2,075-MW capacity provided by Entergy Corp.'s Indian Point nuclear power plant after its two reactors shutdown in 2020 and 2021. As a result of the slated nuclear retirements, New York's power grid operator New York ISO said in March that the CPV Valley project is needed to shore up grid reliability for the New York City area.

Projected to cost more than $900 million, the CPV Valley project is owned equally by private equity firm Global Infrastructure Management Participation LLC through CPV and Mitsubishi Corp. through its subsidiary Diamond Generating Corp.

The CPV Valley's permitting process was also the center of a "pay-to-play" bribery scandal, involving a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and CPV's former senior vice president for external affairs.

A federal jury in March convicted ex-Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco on several felony charges, including receiving more than $280,000 in exchange for assisting with the permitting of CPV Valley. The federal jury failed to reach a verdict on charges against former CPV exec Peter Galbraith "Braith" Kelly Jr. for allegations of bribing Percoco to obtain permits for CPV Valley and another CPV-operated power plant in New Jersey.