Renewable energy companies have been pitching putting solar projects on top of the capped Cutchogue landfill for years, but today, a more traditional energy plant is being eyed for the site.
Stephen Ripp of Northville Industries, which owns the Northville diesel terminal but is now headquartered in Melville, said the town could receive $2 million per year in payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) as well as lease payments on the land if his company builds a 75 megawatt natural gas-powered power plant there.
At Tuesday’s Southold Town Board work session, Mr. Ripp said his company is responding to a request fro proposals from LIPA (now just the owner of the grid which PSEG manages as of Jan. 1) for new “peaker plants” throughout Long Island, which would operate only at times of peak electric load, usually during the hot summer months.
“There’s specifically a portion targeted to the East End, where load growth has been substantial over the years and continues to grow,” Mr. Ripp told the town board. He said the plant, which would need about two acres of the town’s land at the landfill, would run primarily on natural gas, but could run on diesel fuel if there was a disruption in the gas infrastructure. Northville Industries is the largest supplier of diesel fuel in Suffolk County.
National Grid put in a 12-inch diameter gas main along Route 48 last summer, not far from the landfill. Mr. Ripp said he believes the gas provided by that main will be reliable, especially since the peak load on the gas lines is during winter when people are using it to heat their homes, while electric power peaks in summertime.
“The seasonality leads to good use of the infrastructure,” he said, adding the plant would likely only be in operation between five and ten percent of the year during peak need. It would be fueled by jet engines, he said, which are far more efficient than most power plants being used today.
He said most of the existing energy infrastructure on Long Island is “50 years old, obsolete, polluting and inefficient when it comes to fuel consumption.”
“This will reduce the need for transmission expansion, and be a storm hardening of our electrical infrastructure,” he said, adding that the plant would likely help power come on-line much faster after hurricanes than it does using the current electric transmission system.
A smaller peaker plant was built in Greenport, outside the Greenport village electric company’s boundaries, in 2002, he said.
LIPA is looking for proposals to be submitted by the end of this March and will select power plants by the end of the year, after which there will be a comprehensive period of state permitting and environmental assessment that could take up to two years, he said. The board took no action Tuesday morning on whether or not to support the proposal.
Town Board member Bob Ghosio asked if electric rates could go up if the new plant is built.
“This is more efficient than existing plants,” said Mr. Ripp. “This is gas and a lot of peaking facilities on Long Island are oil. Oil is triple the price of gas. Running a more efficient peaker off gas should substantially decrease the cost…. From an energy standpoint, this is a lot cheaper than what they have today.”
PSEG, which is now handling solar energy proposals being sent in by towns as part of the solar feed-in tariff call for proposals, has not yet picked the projects it will support, said a PSEG spokeswoman on Tuesday. They include a proposal for a 2.6 megawatt solar energy array at another area of the Cutchogue landfill.