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Coal Plant Repowering Application Denied

Cayuga is one of the few remaining coal fired plants in New York state.  (Philip Cohen/Wikimedia Commons)
Cayuga is one of the few remaining coal fired plants in New York state. (Philip Cohen/Wikimedia Commons)
February 25, 2016

NEW YORK – The Public Service Commission (PSC) has nixed a plan that would have extended the life of an upstate coal fired power plant.

In 2012, the owners of the Cayuga Power Plant told the state the plant wasn't economical to run and they wanted to close it.

But, concerned about the reliability of the electric grid, the PSC ordered the company to submit a plan to add the capacity to burn natural gas as well as coal.

Chris Amato, an attorney with Earthjustice, calls the PSC's decision to halt that plan a win for the environment and consumers.

"The ratepayers were going to be saddled with millions of dollars in rate increases to finance the repowering, and it wasn't really necessary," he stresses.

Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, representing elected officials, scientists and ratepayers, argued that upgrading transmission capacity would ensure reliability of the grid for about a quarter of the $100 million cost of converting the obsolete coal burning plant.

Amato says the utility serving the area has two projects underway to significantly increase both the efficiency and capacity of transmission lines.

"Which is a good thing because it will also help in the distribution of energy from renewables," he points out.

Cayuga is one of the few remaining coal burning power plants in New York and environmentalists point out that natural gas, though cleaner burning, is still a powerful contributor to climate change.

Amato states the PSC's decision is an indication that the state is taking is its commitment to clean, renewable energy seriously.

"This is a signal that New York state government is moving away from the idea that natural gas is the answer to replace coal," he states.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is committed to eliminating coal burning power plants in New York over the next four years.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY