2002-05-22 / Front Page

Answering Nolan’s Complaints, NYPA Is Cutting Emissions In N.W. Queens

Answering Nolan’s Complaints, NYPA Is Cutting Emissions In N.W. Queens


PhotoVinny DuPre Nolan  hopes that the 500-megawatt plant proposed to be built at the Poletti site in Astoria, pictured above, by the Power Authority would meet the goal of a new state law.PhotoVinny DuPre Nolan hopes that the 500-megawatt plant proposed to be built at the Poletti site in Astoria, pictured above, by the Power Authority would meet the goal of a new state law.

By John Toscano

Responding to complaints from Assemblymember Catherine Nolan regarding the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) lack of efforts to reduce emissions in northwest Queens, the agency’s executive director painted a generally rosy picture of pollution reductions at several facilities in the area.

Executive Director Eugene Zeltmann reported that the two mini generating plants in Long Island City are emitting less pollution than had been expected and that they have proved helpful to the state’s overall energy needs during the winter. He said a gas odor emanating from the plants had been eliminated and plans are afoot to landscape the Vernon Boulevard site.

Zeltmann also assured Nolan in their exchange of letters that her hopes that the 500-megawatt plant proposed to be built at the Poletti site in Astoria by the Power Authority would meet the goal of a new state law to reduce overall emissions, but without implementing the law’s provisions.

Neither Nolan or Zeltmann mentioned the law by name but it seems certain that it is the Clean Energy Initiative authored by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria).

Zeltmann said Nolan referred to legislation enacted last year to achieve overall reductions in emissions by encouraging construction of clean new power plants to replace older facilities or permit their reduced operation, which is what the Gianaris law provides.

NYPA’s proposal to build a new 500-megawatt combined cycle, natural gas-fueled plant and continue to use an existing older plant is awaiting approval by the state Power Siting Board. Zeltmann said NYPA is committed when the new plant is in service to limit the current plant’s annual capacity to a 30 percent rolling average as compared to the present 38 percent.

"As a result," said Zeltmann, "we anticipate significant reductions in overall annual emissions."

Gianaris said he’s not convinced NYPA will reduce use of the older existing plant and recently asked Governor George Pataki to support his proposal and intercede with the Siting Board to direct NYPA to phase out the existing plant when the new plant is completed and online.

Nolan also expressed some doubt about Zeltmann’s claims regarding less pollution being produced at the two plants located on Vernon Boulevard south of the Queensborough Bridge.

She had written Zeltmann in March that the Vernon Boulevard plants and eight others throughout the city would produce a total of 610 tons of emissions (or 61 tons each), according to a New York Times report.

In response, Zeltmann noted that NYPA estimated that the new plants would produce only a total of 167 tons of emissions each year.

Writing back, Nolan said she was encouraged that the power plants are emitting much fewer pollutants than originally expected. But, referring to the Times story, she told Zeltmann, "I would appreciate an explanation of this discrepancy." She will also continue to ask for documentation of emission levels, she added.

Regarding the reported gas odor, Zeltmann said he understood that it had been present occasionally. To eliminate it, he said, NYPA replaced the original gas condensate systems with redesigned units and had reprogrammed the gas compressors so that there is no longer any venting or purging of gas.

Addressing Nolan’s complaint about the appearance of the site, as well as regular maintenance, Zeltmann promised, she said, to improve landscaping by planting trees along Vernon Boulevard and by replacing some sidewalks and driveways.

Speaking about other NYPA emission level reductions, Zeltmann said the agency plans to install pollution control systems on about 1,000 school buses that will operate in power plant areas. It is also working to find a site for two clean fuel cells that will reduce emissions from other power sources, and has completed energy efficiency projects at more than 140 public facilities in Queens, with more in progress.

Nolan said NYPA had told her they are looking for more local emission reduction projects, so she would like to hear from any businesses that wish to participate. If interested call her office at 456-9492.


Return to top

Copyright 1999-2018 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.