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Battle to prevent New York gas-fired plant repowering continues as permit submittal nears

Highlights

32 aging gas-fired turbines would be replaced

Environmental groups say plan incompatible with law

New York — Multiple environmental groups are pushing back against plans to repower a 640-MW natural gas-fired power generation facility in Brooklyn, New York, but the generator called the latest action a delay tactic and said there will be ample time to challenge the application itself.

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The Astoria Generating Company, a subsidiary of Eastern Generation, is preparing to file an application to repower its Gowanus Generating Station and retire the 320-MW Narrows Generating Station, both located in Brooklyn.

The Gowanus facility, operating since 1971, is a fuel oil and natural gas facility consisting of 32 simple-cycle combustion turbines situated across four floating barges moored to a pier located on the Gowanus Bay.

Both the Gowanus and Narrows facilities serve the New York Independent System Operator Zone J (New York City) power market and are electrically connected within the Gowanus/Greenwood sub‐load pocket at the 138 kV level, according to AGC's Preliminary Scoping Statement.

The Gowanus Repowering Project entails replacing the 32 older generating units with eight larger, more efficient, natural gas‐fired units situated equally on two barges. The total MW rating of the repowered facility would be no greater than 590 MW, 50 MW less than the current facility's nameplate rating.

As part of the permitting process, AGC submitted proposed stipulations describing the contents of its pending application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility to the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment in January.

Ahead of a Monday comment deadline regarding the stipulations, Earthjustice and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest submitted comments on behalf of a local sustainability group saying the proposed stipulations "contain several flaws" and that AGC's application will fail to meet state legal requirements.

Specifically, the environmental groups said AGC will fail in several areas: to demonstrate consistency with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act; undertake a robust and realistic alternatives analysis; conduct a rigorous assessment of impacts to environmental justice communities; and conduct a thorough air quality impact analysis.

The CLCPA, signed into law last summer, mandates that 70% of state power generation come from renewable energy resources by 2030 and that power generation produces zero emissions by 2040, among other requirements.

"It is improbable that AGC could show that installing 590 MW of fossil-fired generating capacity complies with the state's clean electricity mandates," the environmental groups said.

Additionally, the following groups requested a 60-day comment period extension Monday: New York Communities for Change, Food & Water Action, New York Public Interest Research Group, Sane Energy Project and 350 Brooklyn.

The groups argued that local community members were unaware of the proposed repowering project, and more time was needed to educate the local community on the proceeding.

'DELAY TACTIC'

AGC's legal representation -- Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton -- requested Tuesday that the extension request be denied because it does not raise any issues relevant to AGC's proposed stipulations and would "merely serve to unnecessarily delay the proceedings."

The document says AGC has met with regulatory agencies, public officials and public interest organizations and held four well-advertised public meetings, the notice of which was distributed to roughly 180 stakeholders, advertised extensively online and in social media and published in multiple local newspapers and publications in English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, with flyers posted and distributed throughout the local community.

The extension request "attempts to address the merits of the Application itself, which has yet to be filed" and the parties "will have ample time to review (and, if so desired, challenge) the Application," AGC's attorneys said.

"The lack of any meritorious basis to extend the comment period strongly suggests that the Request is merely a delay tactic," they said.

Moneen Nasmith, staff attorney with Earthjustice, said in a Tuesday email she is not aware of any deadline for the siting board's response and there is no deadline for AGC to file its application.