Today’s news:

Poletti will close: State Power Authority

The chairman of the state Power Authority is insisting that the agency will shutter Astoria’s notorious Charles Poletti Power Project by its scheduled January 2010 closure date following recent concern by western Queens elected officials and community activists that the plant would remain open.

In a letter to state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D−Astoria), NYPA Chairman Richard Kessel wrote that he has no plans to keep the Poletti plant, which has long been deemed the city’s worst polluter, open longer than necessary.

“There is a legal agreement in place that stipulates and requires that the Poletti plant close by January 2010,” Kessel wrote. “I have no intention of subverting the intent or letter of that agreement. Poletti will close as scheduled.”

Gianaris recently said that government sources and industry representatives had told him NYPA is exploring options to keep the plant open past January 2010 or replace it with a new plant. The authority has been devising plans to make up for energy lost by Poletti’s upcoming closure.

In December 2005, the authority started up a new clean and energy efficient 500−megawatt plant to replace the Poletti plant. Last May, NYPA approved a new plant that would be constructed by Astoria Energy LLC and open in 2011. The authority has also proposed constructing a cable under the Hudson River that would transport electricity from plants in New Jersey.

Roger Kelley, NYPA’s former president, told industry officials two years ago that the authority would consider building a new plant if its plans to replace the Poletti plant fell through, Gianaris said.

The assemblyman said he was concerned that the Hudson River proposal and Astoria Energy’s new plant might never be completed due to excesses of actual cost over budget and tight credit.

Gianaris said he would keep the pressure on the authority to close Poletti on time.

“The Poletti plant is New York’s single worst polluter over the last several decades and the agreement to close it is one of our neighborhood’s proudest accomplishments,” he said. “I am glad Chairman Kessel confirmed that Poletti will close on time as provided in the agreement. Any attempt to ignore that agreement will be met with swift legal action.”

Western Queens generates an estimated 60 percent of the city’s electric power.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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