New York needs power plants

NEW YORK - How's this for an inconvenient truth: Someday soon, when you flip the light switch, the power might not come on.

That's where we're headed if public and political attitudes toward power plants and transmission lines don't change, according to energy industry types gathered at the Orange County Chamber of Commerce's headquarters.

"We are in serious energy trouble," said Jerry Kremer, chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, a trade association. Without additions to the power supply, New York state's power grid won't meet federal reliability criteria by 2011 or 2012, according to the New York Independent System Operator, which runs New York's grid.

Since the state's Article X power plant siting law lapsed a couple years ago, it's been considerably more difficult for power producers to build new plants, said Kremer, who helped author Article X when he was a state assemblyman. These days, it's virtually impossible to secure a permit for a plant through a local planning board, said Gavin Donohue, president of the trade group Independent Power Producers of New York. "The level of NIMBYism in this state is at an all-time high," he said.

Kremer, Donohue and others are lobbying to reinstate Article X. They're also calling for the renewal of the licenses for the Indian Point nuclear plant. In their hour-plus of remarks, none of the panelists discussed the proposed New York Regional Interconnection, a power line that would run through several mid-Hudson communities.

When pressed on the issue, Kremer said his group would like to see the power line built, but doesn't have a position on the route it should take.

He said it's up to "good people with good intentions" to get together and find an acceptable route. All of the panelists acknowledged the roles that conservation and renewable energy can play in averting an energy crisis, but most were skeptical of the notion that green initiatives alone will solve the problem.

John Maserjian of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. outlined his company's efforts to promote conservation, such as planned incentives for customers who install efficient appliances and compact, fluorescent light bulbs. He pointed out that appliances might be getting more efficient, but we're running more of them.

As a result, the utility's customers are using 15 percent more electricity per household than they were a decade ago, Maserjian said.


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