Following an open discussion held by Scenic Hudson on the current Danskammer power plant, Michelle Hook, Vice President of Public Affairs for Danskammer Energy LLC provided corrections and clarifications on certain points made during the forum.
The Danskammer power plant is owned by Danskammer Energy LLC and currently rests on 180 acres of land along the Hudson River in the Town of Newburgh. The current plant began as a coal generating facility when it was first constructed and opened in 1951.
Today, the Danskammer plant operates as a natural gas powered plant and is one of three plants that operate here in the Hudson Valley region. The other two plants included are the Roseton plant and the Bowline plant, which was reported to have caught on fire several weeks ago.
Several alternatives presented to the public by Scenic Hudson included the usage of the existing Danskammer land as possible waterfront development or usage of the land as public recreational spaces and boat launching docks. However, that is not possible according to Hook.
The current land where the plant is located is currently zoned as industrial land. Additionally, the land has remnants of coal ash that was used to power the facility during several decades of usage.
“We [Danskammer] can’t put a park there. We can’t put condos there. We can’t put a port like for boats to come up there. There is coal on site, there’s coal ash left over from when it was burned in the 50s, 60s, 70s,” stated Hook. “There is also a CSX rail line that runs right through the site, right through the middle of it, which would make it pretty unsafe.”
Decisions regarding the usage and repurposing of the land, according to Hook, are not made by Danskammer. Rather, it is New York State regulations that determine those land usages. Hook also stated that a site cleanup of that size would be an expensive project.
Other alternatives for the site that Scenic Hudson presented was to have battery storage facilities built on the property. However, the installation of batteries would only store power, not create power, said Hook.
According to Hook, the Danskammer power plant is currently a part of the state’s electric grid system, which is controlled by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). As a member, Danskammer must remain a power generating facility to meet the state’s energy needs. The current Danskammer site, according to Hook, is a 560 megawatt site that must be at the ready when called upon by the state.
Danskammer Energy LLC is seeking to construct a new 600 megawatt modernized state of the art facility that would be built adjacent to the existing site. With the newly proposed facility, the Danskammer plant will be able to come online in a matter of minutes rather than 11 hours to meet state energy demands.
“New fast starting facilities that can start up at a moment’s notice are going to be necessary as we increase electric demand by adding electric vehicles, by electrifying homes, instead of using, you know, natural gas furnaces and natural gas stoves” Hook stated. “We need more fast-start power options because wind and solar [energy] are extremely intermittent.”
Hook also stated that several battery storage requests for proposals [RFP] have been applied for by Danskammer to see if these units could be installed on-site. Danskammer has also made considerations for solar panels to be installed on the site along with the battery storage units.
Danskammer has also taken into consideration hydrogen blending which would help reduce natural gas emissions, but Danskammer would need to have more discussions down the line. “We [Danskammer] would love to do some other alternative forms of energy in addition to the power plant,” Hook stated.
The proposed construction of the site would be built at a higher elevation further from the riverfront to prevent future water damage as it once sustained during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Hook stated that there is no proposed expansion.
Also during the open forum, Scenic Hudson stated to the public that the newly proposed plant when constructed and operational would be able to run everyday non-stop. Hook stated that that claim was untrue and the Danskammer plant would only run 60-70 percent of the time.
Scenic Hudson also discussed with the public about the new Danskammer plant becoming a new fracked gas facility. Hook stated that in the state of New York, fracking has been outlawed and the current plant runs on natural gas that is fracked from another source. The gas is put into natural gas pipelines and then sent to power plants.
“All of our gas in New York comes from Pennsylvania. The process that they use to get that gas out of the ground is called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking,” Hook stated.
According to Hook, Danskammer, Roseton and Bowline all rely on the fracked gas from out of state to provide power to their facilities. Other facilities and homes across the state all use fracked gas for power.
Within recent weeks, Hook said she has met with Town of Newburgh officials on the power plant proposal and has also shared the various emission figures from the newer facility compared to the old facility. With the new plant, Danskammer will be able to offset any older facilities remaining in the region, the facility would be air cooled and would no longer be pulling water from the river as in years past.
According to several studies conducted, the new plant will also see a projected reduction in regional emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 330,000 tons annually, nitrogen oxide (NOx) reduced by 463 tons annually and sulfur dioxide (SO2) reduced by 437 tons annually.
The proposed plant project is a $500 million private investment into the local community and workforce. In addition, over the course of the next 15-20 years, more than $50 million in tax payments to local governments and schools will be contributed with the upgraded plant.
A projected 450 local union jobs will be created through a partnership with the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council and $12 million in local spending will continue to support the region’s local businesses and suppliers. “A job like this would keep them [union workers] employed for two and a half to three years, and it would be good, steady, high paying work for them,” Hook said.
Last fall in late October, Danskammer Energy LLC had submitted an application for a Title V air permit to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC] which was denied. Hook said that Danskammer saw this “as a very political decision”.
“There are tons of power plants running in the State of New York that have significantly higher greenhouse gas emissions profiles than the plant that we [Danskammer] wanted to install,” Hook said.
According to Hook, the Title V air permit is a federal permit, not a state permit. Within this federal permit, there are certain requirements and emission thresholds that must be met in order to proceed. According to Hook, Danskammer has met those federal standards.
“For them [DEC] to deny our permit, we [Danskammer], you know, we took it to court. And so we’re still very much in that court process looking for an outcome,” Hook said. “We are going through a legal process and a state agency administrative process right now to try to come to some sort of remedy about this.”
According to Hook, an appeal in the administrative process was filed by Danskammer on August 19, 2022. The DEC will need to submit their appeal by this coming October. Hearings with presented testimony and oral arguments were said by Hook to take place next February.