Groundbreaking Marks Start of
Construction of New, Clean Power Plant in Queens
Mr. Ciminelli's remarks
November 6, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ASTORIA—The New York Power Authority (NYPA)
took a major step forward Wednesday toward addressing New York City's future
electricity requirements and air-quality concerns, as it officially broke
ground for a new generating plant that will lead to the shutdown of the
existing Charles Poletti Power Project.
"This is a truly significant occasion for the City of New York and the
Borough of Queens," said Louis P. Ciminelli, NYPA chairman. "Today we break
ground for a new 500-megawatt power plant that will mark the largest
addition of generating capacity in the city since the Poletti project itself
began operation more than 25 years ago. This new power plant will be one of
the cleanest and most efficient in the city's history."
Ciminelli noted the landmark agreement announced by Governor George E.
Pataki in September that was pivotal for the construction of the new plant,
which is scheduled to begin operating by the summer of 2005. The agreement,
among the Power Authority, environmentalists and Queens officials, led the
New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment to
issue a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the
plant last month.
Various provisions of the agreement are incorporated in the license
certificate, including the shutdown of the Poletti project as early as 2008
and investment by NYPA of an additional $50 million over five years in
energy-efficiency and clean-energy projects in Queens and other parts of New
"The construction of this new generating facility by the Power Authority
signals a future in which Queens residents can feel more secure that their
children will grow up in a healthy environment with cleaner air," said Helen
Marshall, Queen Borough president. "It means that the Power Authority will
be able to permanently shutter the existing Poletti project and cut
greenhouse-gas and other airborne emissions in the borough by thousands of
tons a year, while continuing to produce essential amounts of power for
reliable electricity service."
"The new power plant for which we're breaking ground today is part of a
responsible approach to energy and the environment, demonstrating that goals
for these two distinct areas can be compatible," said State Senator George
Onorato of Queens. "It all depends on the available technology and the
determination of different interests to work together."
"Governor Pataki and all those participating in the discussions leading up
to the agreement for the new plant are to be congratulated for what they've
accomplished," said Jerry Connolly, business manager/secretary-treasurer,
Local 5, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. "Now it's up to those of
us in the various craft unions to turn the vision for the new plant into a
As many as 650 workers, representing nearly 15 local labor unions, are
expected to be employed at the peak of the plant's construction. They'll be
required to use extremely low sulfur fuel and particulate-control
technologies in their off-road construction equipment and vehicles to limit
emissions and protect air quality.
The $650-million plant will burn natural gas, with low-sulfur oil as a
backup, and use a sophisticated combined-cycle technology that is cleaner
and more efficient than other power plants. It will also be equipped with
the most advanced emission controls, allowing it to meet federal air-quality
standards by a wide margin.
"The combined-cycle technology allows us to maximize energy that would
ordinarily be dissipated by other power plants," said Eugene W. Zeltmann,
NYPA president and chief executive officer. "After generating electricity
from two turbine-generators, the heat by-product from the new plant's
combustion process will be harnessed by a third turbine generator to produce
additional electricity. That's why this power plant will be so much more
efficient, generating about 50 percent more electricity from its fuel, as it
minimizes any potential emissions."
Zeltmann also noted that the plant will use an air-cooled condenser,
avoiding the need for water from the East River, assuring the new facility
has no impact on aquatic life and water quality.
The plant will provide electricity for, among others, large government
customers in New York City and Westchester County, who currently receive
their power from the existing oil-and natural gas-fueled Poletti project and
other supply arrangements by the Power Authority. Those customers include
New York City government, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the
Port Authority, the City University of New York and various other public
organizations whose essential services range from subway and commuter trains
to schools and hospitals to street lights.
"These customers—and the taxpayers—now save about $250 million a year
through use of Power Authority electricity," said Chairman Ciminelli. They
also save more than $46 million a year from energy-efficiency measures that
NYPA has installed at schools and government buildings in Southeastern New
The agreement that led to the state siting board's certification of the new
power plant contained various other requirements that were included in the
plant's license. Among them, for the Power Authority to increase its use of
cleaner-burning natural gas, instead of oil, at the existing Poletti
project, to reduce the facility's emissions; and to limit Poletti's electric
generation for the period after the combined-cycle plant is brought into
service and the older plant is shut down.
The New York Power Authority is the nation's largest state-owned public
utility. It provides about one-quarter of New York State's electricity.