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New power plant launched at East River in Astoria

On Dec. 31, NYPA launched the new plant on a 47-acre East River site at 31-03 20th Ave. in Astoria, adjacent to the Charles Poletti Power Project, a power plant previously deemed the city's worst polluter.The opening of the new $740 million plant will result in emission reduction at the Poletti plant, which is slated to be closed between 2008 and 2010, said Connie Cullen, a spokeswoman for NYPA. The plant will close in 2008 at the earliest and 2010 at the latest, depending on determined electrical needs for the city, Cullen said.NYPA officials said the new plant will be the cleanest and most efficient generating facility ever built in the city. The plant will incorporate a combined-cycle technology for capturing heat normally lost in the production of electricity, making it more fuel efficient and cleaner. "This is a milestone we've been looking forward to," NYPA Chairman Joseph Seymour said. "The plant will provide greater flexibility in the operation of less clean generating plants, making it possible to reduce their use, especially during the peak demand, summer air-conditioning season."Cullen said the new plant comes equipped with the most technologically advanced emission controls, such as selective catalytic reduction, which reduces the amount of nitrous oxide to two parts per million. She said the new plant uses the best available technology in the world.The new plant will ultimately replace Astoria's Charles Poletti Power Project, a 25-year-old facility owned by NYPA that has been the subject of controversy for years.In 2002, a highly publicized annual report by the federal Environmental Protection Agency listed the 825-megawatt Poletti plant as the worst polluter in the city. The report found that the plant released 263, 376 pounds of pollutants into the air in the year 2000, exceeding the combined total of power plant and industrial emissions from the city's other four boroughs. Gov. George Pataki called for the closing of the plant in September 2002.Cullen said the Poletti plant will be phased out over a period of about three years. She said the plant will produce an average of 30 percent of the two plants' power, with no year greater than 35 percent. Cullen said the NYPA plants produce enough electricity for about 400,000 homes.Astoria-based environmental groups and city lawmakers have fought to close down the Poletti plant and usher in a more environmentally friendly one. Community Board 1, which covers Astoria, Long Island City and Woodside, will meet with NYPA at the board's Jan. 12 meeting to receive updates on the new plant.Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D- Astoria) said he would like to see the Poletti plant removed as quickly as possible."Obviously, we hope the governor lives up to his word and shuts down the plant in a timely fashion," Vallone said. "If not, we have a new governor and attorney general coming into office in the next year."Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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