By KATELYN CORDERO
The City of Newburgh looks to join the Article 10 process for Danskammer Energy Plant by beginning the application for intervenor funding. Intervenor funding can be used to pay for expert witnesses, consultants, administrative costs and legal fees associated to information submitted for the sitting board in the Article 10 process.
Danskammer Energy Plant is not located within city lines, but its proximity to the border of the city qualifies the municipality for intervenor funding. City council members and members of the community have spoken out against the plant because of the fear that pollution that will be pushed into city air.
The Energy plant must follow Article 10 of New York State Public Service law, which calls for the review of new, and repowered or modified major electric generating facilities in New York State by the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment Siting Board in one proceeding.
The plant is already running on natural gas for minimal periods of time. Danskammer Energy plans to repower the old plant with a more energy efficient structure. According to Michelle Hook, Representative from Danskammer Energy, the new plant will not use fracked gas. Hook states the new plant will use the same natural gas used in residents’ homes provided by Central Hudson.
“The plant right now is an old 1950s dinosaur of a plant, it’s not very energy efficient or emission friendly and it uses a lot of natural gas to operate,” said Hook. “It uses more natural gas to achieve the same energy for the grid. We also use Central Hudson to run the plant, so we are not a fracked gas power plant. We don’t do any fracking we don’t use fracked gas, we used the same gas that Central Hudson supplies to the entire Orange County Region where we sit. The gas in our facilities is no different than the gas people use to heat their homes and cook their food.”
The City of Newburgh is looking to secure intervenor funding which is provided by Danskammer Energy to allow local municipalities and entities to take part in the Article 10 process. The Article 10 process is meant to determine the environmental impacts of the plant for a siting board to decide whether the project may proceed and acquire permits.
The City council originally put out a resolution in opposition of the project due to the negative environmental impacts. This resolution was tabled and taken off the agenda.
“Getting the intervenor funding and joining the Article 10 process will be stronger than any resolution we could pass,” said Mayor Torrance Harvey. “Now we are pursuing these other avenues we are putting ourselves in the process and doing so in a very transparent open honest way. We are looking to partner with Scenic Hudson and there’s a few other environmental agencies researching and going over 300 plus documents we received today. We are all in and we are going to meet those deadlines and pursue those things we are going to reach out to those environmental agencies to make sure our environment is clean and safe from those toxins.”
Councilwoman Karen Mejia set a deadline for March 14 and March 24 to apply for the intervenor funding and make a decision on the project. Mejia, Councilman Anthony Grice and Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde all expressed their opposition to the project.
“The Danskammer Energy Plant has been with us for many decades and the effects of that plant we’ve been feeling it whether we articulate it or not we are at a crossing point here where we can articulate with a loud strong voice about where we stand, about figuring out the feeling that always occurs in our city, the promising of jobs and the reality that the data requested shows otherwise,” said Mejia. So that is where the conversations are on Danskammer.”
The plant does not lie within city borders, which means the city doesn’t stand to receive any monetary gains from taxes generated by the plant. The plant also lies within the Marlboro School District, so Newburgh Enlarged City School District will not receive any tax benefits from the plant either.
According to Hook, Danskammer has been in talks with local unions to source created jobs locally.
“When it comes to jobs we’ve been in talks with the unions including the laborers,” said Hook. “One thing we’ve been looking at are ways to transport or to put some of the offloading worksites, which is upwards to 100 jobs, in the city proper. So we would bring the jobs to them, at least a portion of the work.”
Hook says if the resolution proposed by the city council was passed it would be a disappointment to Danskammer Energy as they hope to have a good neighbor policy and look to work with neighboring municipalities to support communities such as Newburgh.
“While it would be unfortunate and disappointing to us we don’t feel that we would be given the full opportunity to explain the benefits of the project, we would hope that regardless of any resolution they pass that we can continue to have good relations with them moving forward,” said Hook. “The plant will be there in the region indefinitely, so we want to make sure that in years going forward we have a good working relationship with all of the surrounding municipalities regardless of political resolutions.”
Monteverde sees the plant as a step backwards in the environmental goals set in place for the city.
“Danskammer for me, I’m opposed to it, there’s no way I will approve this project as an elected official,” said Monteverde. “Renewable energy is the way to go. We have a lot of wind here on the Hudson River.”
Monteverde, like Grice and Mejia does not see the positives of the project outweighing the predicted negative impact on the environment and City of Newburgh air.
Danskammer Energy filed a preliminary statement on February 8, 2019. An overseeing board will be appointed made of several local representatives and state representatives. Once this board is appointed the official Article 10 submission with studies conducted by Danskammer and information collected by intervenors will be reviewed.
This is where the City of Newburgh will come into play. All information they acquire from studies conducted through intervenor funding will be included in the Article 10 submission. According to Harvey, the city is also looking to become a participant in the siting process to have access to all information presented and weigh in on the project.
Hook is hopeful to receive and answer to permits mid 2020. Once the permits are in place the construction is expected to take about two and a half years to finish.