Denenberg Expresses Concerns Over Possible National Grid/LIPA Acquisition
Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) raised concerns over the pending agreement reached between Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and British-based National Grid at a public hearing this week.
“While the proposed deal is better for the ratepayers than previous incarnations, I feel that we can do better,” Denenberg said after the hearing, where members of the Planning, Development & the Environment committee spoke with representatives from LIPA, Keyspan and National Grid. Denenberg noted that issues of plant repowering, manufactured gas plant cleanups, synergy savings and the assessment suit against Nassau County were still not adequately addressed.
Denenberg expressed his disappointment with the “lack of commitment to the ‘re-powering’ of Nassauand Suffolk County power plants, whereby new technologies wouldresult in cleaner and more efficient plants, where plants are currently located.”
“A $100 million commitment to upgrade Northport and Port Jefferson plants with NOX scrubbers, is a positive commitment but is not repowering andis no commitment toward upgrading or repowering plants in Nassau County,” he said. “We needacommitment to using existing technology to makeexisting plants at existing locations cleaner and more efficient. There’s no time like the present to re-power our plants, but that hasn’t been addressed in the current deal.”
Denenberg, along with committee members Diane Yatauro (D-Glen Cove) and Jeff Toback (D-Oceanside), also questioned why Nassau plants were not being included in proposed upgrades.
“You have $100 million going toupgradethe power plants in Port Jefferson and Northport, but the Nassau facilities are being ignored. I’d like to see Nassauplants addressed as well,” he said.
Committee members were also frustrated thatKeySpan has not begun remediation of any contaminated manufactured gas plant sites in Nassau County, particularly the Hempstead and Glen Cove sites.Moreover, National Grid assured committee members that it would assume responsibility for the cleanups, butthe cost of anycleanups would be borne by the taxpayers.
“KeySpan assumed responsibility for these cleanups some nine years ago,” Denenberg said. “However, the pace of the cleanups has been almost non-existent, except for some testing.”
Under the current deal,National Grid would assume all responsibility for any cleanups. KeySpan and National Grid relied on the New York State Department Environmental Conservation’s oversight of the cleanups, which has been notoriously poor. Here in Nassau County, an Albany taskforce oversees the cleanups, instead of the local Region 1 authorities.
“The DEC did not even come to the hearing,” Denenberg stated. “The DEC's lack ofresponsible oversight is only exceeded by its lack of accountability and responsiveness to the taxpayers and residents it is supposed to protect.I am encouraged that National Grid is willing to work with LIPA to strike the best deal,” he said. “The deal that is currently proposed is better for Nassau County and its ratepayers than previous incarnations, specifically $91 million in synergy savings that LIPA said would be passed on the ratepayers. Previously, that number had been zero. This is encouraging.”
Legislators also noted that National Grid’s responsiveness to possible labor issues showssome flexibility and that progress is being made.
Guest speakers at the hearing included Lawrence Reilly, General Counsel for National Grid; Bert Cunningham, Vice President of Communications, LIPA; David Manning, Executive Vice President, Keyspan; and Robert Weitzman, Nassau County Division of Environmental Health.