New York regulators deny permits for two gas-fired power generation projects

Strong points

Projects that do not comply with climate laws: DEC

Law requires emission-free energy by 2040

On October 27, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected applications for two natural gas-fired power plant projects, saying both would be inconsistent with the New York’s ambitious climate law. ‘State and are not necessary for the reliability of the electrical network.

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Specifically, the DEC denied approval of air permits required under Title V for the 536 MW Danskammer net energy center in Newburgh, Orange County, and the 437 MW Astoria gas turbine power facility in Astoria, Queens County, according to DEC statements. .

The Astoria plant is owned by a subsidiary of NRG Energy and the Danskammer plant is privately owned by local resident Bill Reid.

“I applaud the decisions of the Department of Environmental Protection to deny Title V permits for Danskammer Energy Center and Astoria Gas Turbine Power, LLC in the context of our state’s clean energy transition,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in an emailed statement. .

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, and we owe it to future generations to meet our national climate and emissions reduction goals,” Hochul said.

NRG has proposed to build the “Astoria Replacement Project”, which would consist of a new state-of-the-art simple cycle dual fossil fuel combustion turbine generator and Danskammer has applied for permission to build a new combined cycle power plant gas-fired at the current site of its 532 MW gas-fired power plant.

Originally built as a coal-fired power plant, Danskammer switched to gas in 2014, according to the company’s website.

Not legal

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, effective January 1, 2020, sets economy-wide requirements to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions and requires an electric system to zero emissions by 2040.

Section 75 of the Environmental Protection Act sets statewide GHG emission limits of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 85% below 1990 levels by 2050, based on DEC permit denial notices for the projects.

With respect to Danskammer, DEC said its decision was based primarily on the fact that the project would be a new source of a substantial amount of GHG emissions, both direct and upstream, and that the project would be a “new and long-term use of fossil resources”. fuels” to generate electricity without a specific plan in place to comply with CLCPA requirements.

Additionally, “Danskammer’s assertions of compliance” with the CLCPA were based on power sector modeling projections that are uncertain and rely on potential GHG emission reductions at other facilities, the report said. DEC.

Danskammer did not respond to a request for comment.

The agency reached similar conclusions regarding Astoria. Overall, the plan to meet the Climate Act’s 2040 emission-free generation requirement “is uncertain and speculative in nature” and Astoria has not established the feasibility of renewable natural gas or hydrogen as a path to compliance, the DEC said.

“NRG is reviewing the state’s decision, but it’s unfortunate that New York is turning down an opportunity to dramatically reduce pollution and improve power reliability for millions of New Yorkers at such a critical time,” Tom said. Atkins, vice president of development at NRG Energy, said in an email.

“NRG’s Astoria replacement project would have provided immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and would have been fully convertible to green hydrogen in the future,” Atkins said.

Environmental activists saw the decision as a victory.

“The Sierra Club commends Governor Hochul and the DEC for denying permits for the proposed Danskammer and Astoria NRG fractured gas power plants,” Allison Considine, New York campaign representative for the Sierra Club, said in a statement. .

“Today, Governor Hochul and the DEC affirmed that New York is serious about preventing projects that will exacerbate the global climate crisis and worsen pollution in surrounding communities by denying permits to Danskammer and Astoria,” said Manna Jo Greene, Director of Environmental Action for Hudson River Sloop. Clearwater, said.

Companies can request an administrative arbitration hearing regarding the decisions within 30 days.

“While we are deeply disappointed with this decision, NRG will continue to find ways to help New York meet its emissions goals,” Atkins said, adding that in the meantime, “our current plant of Astoria will continue to operate to ensure the lights stay in New York because that remains the most important thing.”

“Contrary to DEC statements, the denial of these repowering permits is inconsistent with the progress needed to achieve CLCPA goals over the next 20 years,” Independent Power Producers of New York CEO Gavin Donohue said. in a press release.

“Projects like Danskammer and Astoria displace significant emissions from existing resources while ensuring New York City and the rest of the state can maintain reliability as the energy system transitions to a low-carbon future. “, said Donohue.

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