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LIC power plant opening a ‘bright day’ for Queens

"It will help ensure that we will not have any blackouts or brownouts in the city of New York moving forward," said Keyspan Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert B. Catell. "What a bright day this is for the city of New York and its residents."

The first local plant to open after the 2003 blackout, the $350 million addition to Keyspan's Long Island City plant will help the company provide nearly 30 percent of New York City's electricity, Catell said at a ceremony on the facility's grounds on Vernon Boulevard.

The natural gas-powered plant is more efficient than older power plants because it uses a combined cycle generator, which captures and recycles heat from the primary generator, said company spokesman Tim Carrol.

In addition to generating extra megawatts, this process cuts down on pollution because it expels less nitrogen and carbon dioxide into the air than standard electric plants, Carrol said.

Government officials praised the environmentally friendly facility during the ceremony.

"This combined cycle plant is the wave of the future," said Chris Ward, city Department of Environmental Protection commissioner.

"This is a good day for all of the New Yorkers who breathe," added Katherine Kennedy, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. "This is the first power plant that NRDC supported in the city."

The plant is 30 percent more efficient than standard generators and does not rely on water from the East River to generate power, which means it will not further pollute that body of water, she said.

Bill Flynn, the city's Public Service Commission chairman, said the plant would help New York meet its ever-growing energy needs. It will also make the city a more competitive energy producer.

Keyspan, the fifth-largest natural gas distributor in the country, operates five large steam and 46 smaller power plants on Long Island, according to a company pamphlet. The company purchased its Long Island City plant, named Ravenswood, in 1999 from Con Edison and resolved to expand it that same year.

Construction of the addition got under way in 2002 and was completed in 226 days, Catell said. When the new plant goes on line over the next few weeks, the combined Long Island facility will produce about 2,650 megawatts of electricity, Catell said.

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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