Astoria opposes new power plant

ASTORIA, NEW YORK - Not one more.

That’s how many Astoria residents reacted when Astoria Energy announced plans to build a new power plant in the neighborhood, which already has five power plants.

On May 3, several dozen residents gathered in front of the site where the new facility will be built to express their anger.

“Why do we have to be dumped on? Enough is enough,” said Barbara Tverdoch. “Why don’t they put them in Manhattan? There’s water in Manhattan,” Tverdoch added, referring to the fact that power plants have to be built close to water.

The need for more energy is real, but adding a sixth power plant in Astoria would be detrimental to the air quality of the neighborhood, which has some of the city’s highest asthma rates, protestors said.

“It’s poisoning our air; it’s killing us,” Tverdoch said.

“There is a perception that any power plant is bad; but that’s just not the case,” said Chuck McCall, general manger of Astoria Energy.

McCall explained that the new facility, which is expected to start operations in 2011, is going to be the cleanest one in the city.

The 500-megawatt plant, fired through natural gas, will produce electricity with technology that reduces waste and increases efficiency, according to McCall. The increased efficiency will boost supply and cause the dirtier plants in the neighborhood not to run as much, which will in turn reduce pollution, McCall explained.

In addition, the plant’s efficiency will also result in lower prices for Astoria Energy’s customer - the New York Power Authority, which is a state-owned electricity provider that sells power to government agencies, McCall said.

The 23-acre lot where the new facility will be located houses a 500-megawatt bloc owned by Astoria Energy. This bloc, producing electricity for Con Edison, started operations in 2006.

Astoria’s five power plants - Astoria Energy, US Power Gen, NRG and two Charles Poletti Projects - supply more than 60 percent of the city’s electricity.

The old Poletti Power plant is scheduled to be retired by 2010. Its replacement, the new Poletti Plant, has been in operation for a couple of years.

However, local officials continued to echo many of their constituents’ concerns about yet another power plant in their neighborhood.

“In what universe is that fair?” asked Queens Assemblymember Michael Gianaris. “Why does it all have to come from Astoria?”



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