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New York Protesters Say "Let Dying Coal Plant Die"

PHOTO: The coal-fired Cayuga Power Station on the shores of Lake Cayuga near Ithaca is targeted in a plan to convert it to a natural gas-burning facilities, but some area residents strenuously object. Photo credit: Philip Cohen/Wikipedia.
PHOTO: The coal-fired Cayuga Power Station on the shores of Lake Cayuga near Ithaca is targeted in a plan to convert it to a natural gas-burning facilities, but some area residents strenuously object. Photo credit: Philip Cohen/Wikipedia.
November 13, 2014

ITHACA, N.Y. - A plan to convert a coal-fired power plant on the shores of Lake Cayuga to a natural gas-burning facility is under fire from residents of nearby towns who say it is unnecessary - and will hit utility customers' bills hard.

Moneen Nasmith, senior associate attorney with Earthjustice, says the facility will also encourage fracking for natural gas, which presents other potential problems.

"The goal here should be to move towards renewable energy," she says. "Let's not lock ourselves into yet another fossil fuel-burning plant that isn't necessary."

One estimate says ratepayers will shoulder a burden of almost $100 million if the conversion goes through. The regional utility, New York State Electric and Gas, has said simple upgrades to regional transmission lines would be a better way to proceed.

Nasmith endorses the idea to improve the electrical grid.

"The utility has put forward a proposal for transmission upgrades that would result in no burning, period, at this facility," says Nasmith. "That is the greener, more responsible alternative from a climate change perspective."

Natural gas has been characterized as a "bridge" to a future of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy.

"Except the 'bridge' is not to put in expensive natural gas-burning units," says Nasmith. "While arguably less damaging than burning coal, the natural gas facility is still burning fossil fuel, and would still result in emissions of greenhouse gasses."

Climate defenders, elected officials from the Finger Lakes region, and utility ratepayers will take their concerns to the monthly Public Service Commission meeting in Albany on Thursday, and have already made their feelings known to Governor Cuomo's office.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY