Environmentalists Support Plans for New Power Plant

Environmentalists are voicing their support for a new power plant planned for the banks of the Hudson River in New York.

How often does this happen? Environmentalists are voicing support for a new power plant scheduled for construction on the banks of the Hudson River.

Three nonprofit environmental organizations - Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Scenic Hudson Inc. - have announced their support for the Bethlehem Energy Center (BEC) project, a 750-megawatt (MW) power plant being proposed by PSEG Power New York Inc. (PSEGNY) at a site on the Hudson River in Bethlehem, NY.

The proposed BEC is a natural gas-fired, combined cycle power plant that uses low-sulfur oil as a backup fuel. It will be located on the west bank of the river about three miles south of Albany on the same site of the existing Albany Steam Station, a less-efficient, 50-year-old power plant. PSEGNY will close down the existing station when BEC begins commercial operation.

"Environmentalists are able to support this project for one simple reason," said Alex Matthiessen, Hudson Riverkeeper and Riverkeeper Inc. executive director. "BEC will reduce Hudson River water withdrawals at the site by more than 98 percent, thereby protecting adult and juvenile fish, larvae and eggs, while also reducing air pollution rates by 98 percent and nearly doubling electricity generation."

"BEC provides an excellent example of the environmental benefits that can be achieved by redeveloping existing power plant sites with new electric generating equipment and pollution control technologies," said Warren P. Reiss, general counsel of Scenic Hudson. "BEC demonstrates that New Yorkers can meet their electricity needs while improving the environment and protecting the historic beauty of the Hudson Valley."

Katherine Kennedy, NRDC senior attorney, noted that "New York State should encourage new power plants like BEC that result in displacement of older, less-efficient plants."

By redeveloping an existing site and guaranteeing pollution reductions, "we became partners with the environmental community," said Russell S. Arlotta, PSEGNY director-development. "We''re pleased that we''ve been able to forge this partnership and reach a consensus with the environmental organizations about the benefits BEC will bring to New York. The project is a clear example of the environmental, energy, and economic benefits that can be realized by redeveloping existing generating sites and replacing existing equipment with new technology."

BEC will employ a "hybrid" wet/dry closed-cycle cooling technology that will reduce intake of Hudson River water from 507 million gallons a day to 8.5 million gallons a day when compared to the existing Albany Steam Station. BEC also will employ state-of-the-art combustion turbines and air pollution control technology that will reduce emission rates of smog-causing nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions, one of the main pollutants that causes acid rain, by 98 percent. Because it is a redevelopment of an existing site, BEC will use existing electric transmission lines and gas delivery pipelines.

Pending approvals, construction of BEC could begin in 2002 with the new plant operational in 2004.

PSEGNY announced it will provide $81,000 to Riverkeeper to fund scientific research on the use of an experimental technology to be installed at BEC to further protect aquatic organisms.

For further information about this and other environmental projects, visit Riverkeeper at www.riverkeeper.org; NRDC at www.nrdc.org; or Scenic Hudson Inc. at www.scenichudson.org.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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