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Gianaris wants clean energy

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State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D−Astoria) believes the state should clean up existing power plants in Western Queens rather than build new ones following the decision last week by the state energy board to approve amendments on the second phase of an Astoria plant.

The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, which determines where power plants can be built within the state, approved amendments to Astoria Energy LLC’s certificate of environmental compatibility in early April. These allow the group to begin construction on the second phase of the power plant it operates on Steinway Street in northwestern Astoria.

The state originally approved a 1,000−megawatt plant at the site. But the board approved a 1,240−megawatt plant for the site last week.

“The big picture is that this is a project that is bad for the community and it’s not the most efficient way for the city to get energy,” Gianaris told a TimesLedger reporter Tuesday. “We should repower plants with cleaner technology rather than create new ones.”

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

Gianaris said community leaders should have a say on the construction of power plants in their neighborhood.

“This community is the host of a majority of the city’s electricity production,” he said. “It deserves a seat at the table. I’m not saying not to build anything anywhere. But when someone wants to build a new plant and does not provide any environmental benefit to a community that has suffered so long, I have to oppose it because it’s wrong.”

The siting board is made up of members from the Public Service Commission, as well as the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority and its Environmental Conservation, Health and Economic Development departments.

A PSC spokeswoman said the amendments to the second phase of the project, originally approved in 2001 and split into two phases in 2004, would not negatively affect western Queens.

“The board determined it would not increase any environmental impact,” she said.

Gianaris said he feels reassured that the notorious Charles Poletti Power Project, which has long been deemed the city’s worst polluter, will close on time in January following recent concern from community leaders that the state’s Power Authority would keep the plant open longer than originally projected.

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

Posted 6:34 pm, October 10, 2011
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