Schumer wants turbines built far from waterfront

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Electric generators should be installed around the city, Schumer said, because New York may face a brownout next summer unless it does something to increase its energy production.

"We have to produce more energy," Schumer told a news briefing at this Manhattan office. "And that means we will need new power plants built."

In October, the New York Power Authority announced it had selected the sites for nine of 11 small electric generators that were purchased in August for $220 million from General Electric Packaged Power Inc. At the time, a spokesman for the NYPA said the 44-megawatt gas turbines were intended to avert a power supply problem in New York City beginning in June 2001 until the completion of three larger new plants, which are expected to be on line within the next two or three years.

The purchase and the placement of the turbines are a result of last year's decision by the state to dismantle the electric-utility monopolies so customers could choose their own energy providers. Each turbine will produce up to 44 megawatts, or in the case of two units at a single site, a combined maximum of 79.9 megawatts at any given moment, NYPA officials have said.

Officials from the NYPA could not be reached for comment on Schumer's proposal.

Schumer spokesman Bradley Tusk said the senator supports building more power plants but insists that they be done in such a way that would allow the neighborhood to have a say in where the generators are placed.

"In general, the city's energy usage far outstrips our energy capacity and that's what puts us at risk for brownouts," Tusk said. "That's why our electricity rates are so high. And if there is not a consistent supply of energy, businesses are not going to relocate in New York and they're not going to stay."

Tusk also said Schumer opposes putting the generators on the city's waterfront.

"Those places are for recreation, not for power plants," Tusk said.

Schumer proposes a system in which each borough president would nominate four or five locations at which the power companies could build. Then residents of those neighborhoods would be able to voice their opinions on where to place the turbines. Schumer also opposes the placement of the turbines so close to Silvercup Studios at 42-25 21st St. in Long Island City.

Silvercup officials said last week they may file a lawsuit preventing the NYPA from placing two temporary generators near the studio because the company had intended to expand the three-acre facility to six acres along the East River.

Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Borough President Claire Shulman, said there are better sites in Queens for the turbines, which would also disrupt plans for development of the Queens West apartment houses. The apartment project broke ground last week.

In December, Gov. George Pataki joined Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Shulman to break ground at the new apartment complex building in Hunters Point, the first of three new luxury rental buildings slated for development at Queens West.

The new building, covering 74 acres of land, is to be located on Center Boulevard, directly across the East River from the United Nations, officials said. The first building, called "Avalon Riverview," will be located between 49th and 50th avenues. It will cost $103.5 million and will be 32 stories high, providing space for 372 apartments and a 130-car parking garage. It is expected to open in spring 2002.

Tusk said Schumer, who called for a national consensus energy policy at the news briefing last week, understands the need for power, but he said more thought should be put into finding a suitable place for the generators.

"Do we need more?" Tusk asked. "Yes. Do we put them anywhere? No."

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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