While attention is turned toward the phased reopenings in the Hudson Valley after the coronavirus lockdown, another threat to our health is taking shape and bringing with it threats to the climate goals New York State has adopted.
Danskammer Energy owns a 68-year-old power plant on the Hudson River in the Town of Newburgh. The existing plant operates only a handful of days a year as a “peaker” facility. Danskammer Energy is proposing to build a new 550-megawatt gas-fired plant next to the existing facility. It would be a “baseload” facility, running nearly all the time.
The new Danskammer plant would emit far more air pollution than the existing plant, which is why it should be of utmost concern to Hudson Valley residents. Given the dramatic increase in operating hours, harmful air pollutants that threaten public health will increase significantly and waft over a wide area. Danskammer even admits this in its own regulatory filings. These pollutants include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides, known dangers to our lungs, as well as greenhouse gas emissions projected to increase by more than 4,000 percent.
Building a new power plant that will exponentially increase annual greenhouse gas emissions would be a grave mistake. New York’s new climate law will require polluting facilities like Danskammer to be retired, not built. And the increased power generation at Danskammer is completely unnecessary. The New York Independent System Operator has determined that there are no reliability concerns for New York’s electric grid over the next 10 years without a new Danskammer plant. Additionally, future power needs are expected to be met by renewable resources supported by energy storage. Thanks to another new law facilitating siting these large-scale renewable energy projects, more wind and solar farms will be coming on line to replace electricity generated from fossil fuels.
The proposed plant at Danskammer would be a giant step backwards, bringing many unfortunate consequences to the Hudson Valley and the entire State. It’s imperative that Governor Andrew Cuomo use his administration’s regulatory powers to stop Danskammer Energy from building this dangerous and unnecessary plant.
Christine Arroyo is a writer and creative director living in the Hudson Valley.
The River is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the newsroom.