15 Sep 2014
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LIPA Task Force Touts Campaign to Repower Port Jeff Plant

Repowering the Port Jefferson power plant is main thrust of LIPA Task Force strategy.

LIPA Task Force Touts Campaign to Repower Port Jeff Plant

A campaign to repower the power plant in Port Jefferson was presented by the village’s LIPA Task Force at a at as one strategy to push back against the tax grievance filed with the Town of Brookhaven and the Village of Port Jefferson by National Grid and Long Island Power Authority.

The utilities claim that they are overpaying taxes for the power plant.

At the meeting, Mayor Margot Garant presented the campaign titled “Repower Port Jefferson” along with information the Task Force gathered about the power plant.

“What we wanted to do tonight was give you the facts,” said Mayor Garant. “This is what we know. We don’t know what the end point will be. But this is what we know.”

The main thrust of the strategy is to convince National Grid that repowering the Port Jefferson plant is in its best interest economically and environmentally.

One card the village has in its deck is that the plant poses an environmental problem if it’s decommissioned and the village could force National Grid to remediate the property.

Mayor Garant called the property a brownfield. According to brownfieldscenter.org–an environmental law website–a brownfield is “an industrial or commercial property that remains abandoned or underutilized in part because of environmental contamination or the fear of such contamination.”

“The federal government would have to come in if the plant were decommissioned and then the brownfield would have to be cleaned up,” Mayor Garant said.

She called the cost to remediate the property “mindboggling” and that the financial burden rests on National Grid, the property owner.

One community member in the audience asked how the utility could use the land for so many years, then leave Port Jefferson with an abandoned industrial property and no revenue.

“That’s a good question,” said Mayor Garant.

The alternative, according to the Task Force’s claim, is to repower the plant in Port Jefferson. The Task Force asserts that there are many good reasons to repower besides the obvious environmental and economic headaches of remediating a brownfield.

One is that the plant is in a prime location to be repowered because a gas supply and electrical lines are already on the property, the footprint already exists and there is access to a deepwater harbor. Mayor Garant insisted that there is no doubt that there is plenty of room on the property to repower the plant.

Most importantly, she said that there is little cry of “not in my backyard” (sometimes known as NIMBY) that is typically associated with developing a large industrial site in many neighborhoods.

“A host community exists,” Mayor Garant said. “We are here. It is in our backyard already and we welcome it.”

To help develop the campaign to repower Port Jefferson’s plant, the Task Force hired a public relations company.

“Epoch 5 public relations will be instrumental in our campaign moving forward,” said Mayor Garant.

The Task Force has engaged labor unions, environmental groups and elected officials to help design legislative solutions as well, according to Mayor Garant.

She also implored the community to get involved by joining the committee, attending meetings, writing or emailing elected officials, signing the community petition (PDF) and joining the Repower Port Jefferson Facebook page.

When asked if there were other plans for the site other than repowering, Mayor Garant said, “not really but we’d like there to be.”

Port Jefferson Patch will be following up on this with more reports on differing aspects of the issue, including the cost of repowering the plant, alternatives to repowering and effects of the tax grievance on the budgets of the school, library and the village services.

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