William Reid, CEO of Danskammer LLC, came before the Marlborough Town Board on Monday night to present a snapshot of his company’s proposal to build a new natural gas fired power plant next to the old 1950s facility. The older plant originally burned coal but in the 1980s natural gas was added to the mix. Presently, the plant is fired up only when the demand calls for it.
Reid pointed out that the company’s proposal for a new plant is currently going through a public review process in an Article 10 proceeding. He touted the advantages of the new facility; it can power more than 500,000 homes and businesses, will reduce emissions per megawatt hour of generation and will use air-cooled condensers and not Hudson River water. The project will provide economic benefits to the surrounding communities by contributing $50 million in property and school taxes over the next 20 years and $100 million in local spending during the construction phase. He said if approved 400 construction jobs would be created for the 3 years it will take to build the plant.
Reid said the site does not need new gas or transmission lines, will operate on an existing brownfield site that will minimize the environmental impacts and is located outside FEMA’ s 500 year floodplain.
Reid said the old plant is less efficient, has higher emission levels and takes 11 hours to power up and down while the new plant can be up and running in 10 minutes, drops emissions by 80% to 90% and requires 50% usage of natural gas. The new plant will have a better efficiency rate along with lower cost of electricity and will fill in when wind and solar fall short due to a lack of wind or sun.
“Only about a quarter of the time can you count on renewables to produce electricity; that means you need a plant like ours to run when renewables cannot produce,” he said.
Reid said the new plant’s technology will realize “dramatic” reductions (on an hourly basis) in emissions; 95% in Nitrous Oxide, 88% in Carbon Dioxide, 85% in Volatile Organic Compounds, 75% in Particulate Matter, 47% in the cost of producing an electron and a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the existing plant.
Reid drew a parallel between wind power and the proposed new Danskammer plant. A wind farm that produces 290 Megawatts of wind, given a 26% capacity, would only produce 75 to 90 megawatts. It would need 28,000 acres, 9 miles of roadways and 121 turbines on towers that reach nearly 600 feet. Danskammer’s capacity is 535 megawatts [with a top end of 600 MW], will use 10 acres of the existing site with a 170 foot high stack. In addition, a wind powered site would need extensive tree removal and new transmission lines installed.
Reid said after their Article 10 application, public hearings will be scheduled later this year. He expects a decision will be made in mid 2020 and, if approved, he said the project will take 30 months to build.
Reid said numerous planned studies will be done as part of the approval process: wetlands delineation, traffic and noise analyses, cultural resource consultations, visual simulations created and analyzed, air emissions and economic modeling performed and studies of the impacts to the electrical interconnection system.
Reid said a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement with the Marlboro School District began in 2015 and will run to the end of the 2020-21 school year. There is also a PILOT agreement with Orange County/Town of Newburgh that started in 2016 and will continue through the 2021 fiscal year. He said they started with a $1.5 million PILOT payment that went to the Marlboro School District and has risen based on the Town of Newburgh’s tax levy increases.
Reid said there is also an annual $200,000 five year community Benefit Agreement with the Town of Newburgh as well as a community benefit agreement with the school district based on production measured by megawatt hour. His presentation, however, pointed out that this has not reached generation levels that would require making payments.
Reid said Danskammer has paid more than $7 million in taxes over the last three years to the Marlboro School district and presently are paying approximately $1.7 annually. He said they also pay $1.3 million each year to the Town of Newburgh and coupled with payments to Orange County, the total reaches $2.3 million annually.
Reid pointed out that in the last 4 years Danskammer has cumulatively paid out $9,214,416 to these entities. The presentation acknowledges that “Danskammer requires a new PILOT agreement in order to undertake re-powering,” with a targeted term of 20 years. Reid said his company is seeking to have a “firm” payment schedule that works for Danskammer and the host communities.
Reid summed up this fiscal picture from Danskammer’s perspective.
“All of this goes away if the plant is shutdown for environmental reasons or is retired for economic reasons,” he said. “If we build this new facility the town can depend on the taxes from this facility for twenty-five or thirty years.”
Reid summed up Danskammer’s long range objective.
“Our goal, as an existing member of this community, is to be a good citizen, to get along well with our neighbors, to solicit input from everybody and answer any questions they may have,” he said. “We know we’ll have a positive economic impact on the region with taxes and jobs and we want that to continue. We’re very happy to try to be your partner in putting something in place that is much better for the electricity system in this region and is much better for the economics for Marlborough and Newburgh.”