Vallone’s bill would limit number of power plants

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City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria) is calling on the state Legislature to amend state laws that would prevent communities from being burdened with an over−saturation of power plants following recent speculation that Astoria’s notorious Charles Poletti Power Project might remain open past January 2010, when it has been scheduled to shut down.

The state New York Power Authority had agreed to close the Poletti plant, which has been deemed the city’s worst polluter, early next year. In December 2005, the authority started up a new clean and energy−efficient 500−megawatt plant to replace the Poletti Project.

NYPA had also approved a new plant last year that would be constructed by Astoria Energy LLC and open in 2011 as well as proposing constructing a cable under the Hudson River that would transport electricity from plants in New Jersey. Both plans were devised to make up for energy lost by the closure of the Poletti plant.

But Vallone introduced a resolution last week that would prevent the state from placing an inordinate number of power plants in any given city neighborhood.

“It’s not a matter of not−in­my−back­yard,” Vallone said. “Our back yard is already full. This is another dagger in the lungs of northwest Queens.”

Vallone’s resolution calls on state legislators to amend the state’s Public Service Law to halt the construction of new electric generating facilities in neighborhoods, such as Astoria, that are filled to capacity.

State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D−Astoria) recently said government sources and industry representatives had told him that NYPA is exploring options to keep the Poletti plant open past January 2010 or replace it with a new plant. 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 Poletti fell through, Gianaris said.

NYPA could not be reached for comment.

Gianaris said he sent a letter to current NYPA President Richard Kessel last month.

Rose Marie Poveromo, president of Astoria’s United Community Civic Association, said she has never been convinced that the Poletti plant would be closed down at its scheduled date or even at all.

“I’ve always said that they have no intention of closing down the toxic−spewing Poletti plant because more and more generation is needed,” she said. “Lo and behold, now there is talk of a possibility that the old plant won’t close down. Western Queens has been assaulted by the unconscionable number of plants there. It’s a disgraceful abuse of power by those who made the decision to allow additional plants to be built in Queens.”

Poveromo and Gianaris have both said they would like to see existing plants in western Queens be re−powered rather than the construction of new plants.

“We’re already overwhelmed, overburdened and oversatura­ted,” Poveromo said.

Elected officials have long said western Queens generates an estimated 60 percent of the city’s power.

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

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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