The Long Island Power Authority today released a state-mandated study of the Northport Power Station which it said found that accelerating the retirement of 400 to 600 megawatts of older power plants in 2022 can save Long Island electric consumers over $300 million.
“These reports demonstrate that our efforts to reduce electric demand through one of the nation’s leading energy efficiency programs is both good for the environment and our customers’ electric bills,” LIPA Chief Executive Officer Tom Falcone said. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stress it is placing on families throughout Long Island, it is more important than ever that we operate efficiently, reduce cost, and treat all our customers fairly.”
The Repowering Feasibility Study finds that the need for Long Island’s older power plants has significantly decreased and that replacing the plants with newer, more efficient natural gas plants would raise customer costs by $1.2 to $1.7 billion. The study finds that replacing a single unit of the four-unit Northport plant would raise customer bills by nearly $700 million. Instead, the study concludes that retiring, not replacing, one of the four units at the Northport plant in 2022 would be the best option – reducing cost by $300 million while not reducing system reliability.
Production at the Northport station has gradually declined from 55.8 percent of plant capacity in 2005 to 15.2 percent last year, LIPA said. That decline is expected to continue to 2.9 percent of plant capacity by 2035.
In response to the study, LIPA announced that by year-end it would complete a review of the savings from retiring other similar plants in Island Park and Port Jefferson and recommend an additional retirement of 400 to 600 megawatts of steam plants by 2022. LIPA expects additional steam plant retirements after new offshore wind projects are interconnected into the Long Island electric grid in 2024.
LIPA is in the midst of a legal battle with the Town of Huntington over its tax assessment; the value of the plant and its declining use are at the heart of the fight.
Several local business and organizational leaders weighed in on the LIPA report.
Mitchell H. Pally, Chief Executive Officer of the Long Island Builders Institute, said: “In these unprecedented times, it is absolutely necessary that our electric utility do everything possible, both short-and long-term, to reduce the electric bills paid by our businesses as they attempt to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to use this opportunity to provide new and cleaner methods of electric service. The release of these two reports lays out a specific series of actions, which are absolutely necessary, to reduce the costs of every ratepayer on Long Island, while at the same time use the most efficient and cleanest methods of producing our energy. We strongly support these much-needed initiatives and urge their implementation now.”
Sammy Chu, chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council Long Island Chapter, said: “The U.S. Green Building Council-Long Island supports LIPA’s decision to retire one of their four steam units at Northport Power Plant. Due to decreased energy demand on Long Island and increased deployment of renewable energy sources, the economic costs of repowering the Northport Power Plant aren’t justified. As deadlines outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act approach, it is imperative we make decisions based on long term projections. LIPA has outlined sensible recommendations in their Northport Repowering Study. We are grateful for LIPA’s continued prioritization of renewable energy sources to meet the needs of our grid as outlined in CLCPA.”
Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters,said:“As the need to act on climate change is becoming more and more critical, this repowering feasibility study shows that renewable energy is the way forward. Moving away from fossil fuels is necessary to not only improve our environment but also save money for ratepayers. Mothballing one of the plants will reduce air pollution and help New York meet the 100% clean energy by 2040 standard set in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Rooftop solar and energy efficiency mandates are already greening Long Island, and the upcoming offshore wind power will slash emissions even further. We look forward to working with LIPA as these actions are implemented as soon as possible.”