Last Monday a group of Kayakers paddled out across the Hudson River from the shore of Wappinger Creek near Reese Park in Dutchess County and over to the Danskammer Power Plant in Orange County to send a clear and simple message to Governor Cuomo; stop the new proposed Danskammer Power Plant.
Andrew Pezzullo, of Food and Water Action, said their mission is to help communities protect their air and water and to secure, “a livable future for all.”
Pezzullo said his organization and many others have fought long and hard to protect the Hudson River, “and to get people to know more of what’s happening at Danskammer Point.” He said a new natural gas fired power plant is being proposed next to the old one.
“It is a direct threat to the river and a direct threat to river communities; the river towns of Newburgh and Wappingers especially,” he said.
Pezzullo said the contention that once the Indian Point nuclear power plant closes in Peekskill in 2021, significant shortages of electricity will follow. He called this a “great argument, but it’s a lie.” He said the NYS Independent System Operators released a report in 2014 that, “conclusively states that we’re OK with Indian Point closing [and] we meet our needs with a variety of other solutions; energy efficiency, demand response, new renewable generation and importantly transmission line improvements and the state has already covered any mega-watt deficit that’s left by Indian Point’s closure.”
Pezzullo’s reference to a transmission problem refers to getting electricity from the less populated areas upstate to downstate where far more people reside.
“There are thousands of megawatt improvements to transmission lines that have already occurred to cover Indian Point’s decommissioning,” he said. “So renewable generation, nuclear, hydro, wind, geothermal all from upstate becomes available to the Hudson Valley, Westchester County, New York City and Long Island. A lot of it has already happened and a number of them will be completed even before Danskammer finishes its proposal. So there is no relationship between Indian Point [closing] and Danskammer.”
Pezzullo pointed out that the famous New York City Blackout of 1977, “didn’t have to do with the fact that there wasn’t enough electricity generated, it had to do with the way it was being balanced and allocated by NYISO. So I feel like why is new gas that’s unnecessary and that is profoundly dirty and dangerous, the solution to a non-problem.”
Pezzullo wants to see energy solutions that actually solve problems, that solve infrastructure problems, “but Danskammer is not that.” He said this new power plant proposal is not in line with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which calls for 3,000 megawatts of battery storage, 2,500 megawatts of new solar and thousands and thousands of new wind power.
“Nowhere does it say that new gas is necessary,” he said.
Pezzullo said if the plant is approved the Governor can stop it from moving forward but a legal challenge would surely ensue.
Pezzullo commented on the current status in the struggle.
“The gas industry has decided that with Indian Point’s closure they’re going to take what is confusion in the marketplace of ideas, confusion in the media about these numbers and they’re going to take advantage of that,” he said. “Currently we’re fighting the war of words and the war of numbers but we are also fighting the war of power. We are the constituents, we voted for Governor Cuomo to do something about climate change and so we’re demanding action on it too.”
Tamsin Hollo, of Newburgh, said Danskammer is presently run as a peaker plant, “maybe four to seven hours a week and they want to build a whole new plant that would run all the time, 140 to 160 hours per week. Even if they run 70%, their own prospectus says that this new technology that they’ll be introducing at Danskammer will reduce the air emissions per unit by 40%. If they actually succeed in doing that, to break even on air emissions they would be looking at running maybe 10 hours a week. Even if they’re operating 70% of the time at 100 hours a week, it’s clear that the air emissions will go up substantially, probably about ten-fold.”
Santosh Nandabalan, who is an organizer with Food and Water Action, said many local municipalities and towns have already publicly come out against the Danskammer proposal.
“The big moment here is that Governor Cuomo is the one who makes the final decision on this,” he said, “We want to tell Governor Cuomo there’s a real opposition here locally to the plant and going out on the water and making the physical appearance and showing the connection to the Hudson is the best way to do it.”