— Yaphank power plant is the region’s cleanest, most energy-efficient plant,
eliminates as much CO2 emissions as 500 megawatts of solar —
YAPHANK, NY — August 24, 2016 — Caithness I, the first power plant at the Caithness Long Island Energy Center in Yaphank, has substantially decreased the region’s carbon footprint and has been more effective in this regard than any other single action the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has undertaken.
Due to its high efficiency, Caithness I displaces generation from older generating units that would use far more fuel and, because Caithness I burns considerably less fuel, greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced. In the seven years since it went online, Caithness I has cut regional carbon dioxide emissions by three million tons. On an annual basis, it reduces 14 times more greenhouse gas emissions than the 32 megawatt (MW) Long Island Solar Farm at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Caithness I has enabled LIPA to retire two antiquated power plants that were built in the 1950s, helping to modernize Long Island’s generating system. The retired plants emitted 50 percent more greenhouse gasses and fifty times more NOx emissions per unit of electricity generated than Caithness I. Using “once-through” cooling systems, the decommissioned plants used water from the Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean for condensing steam. The use of these systems resulted in high fish mortality rates, with hundreds of thousands of fish and millions of fish larvae killed each year. Because it uses an air-cooled condenser, Caithness I uses no marine water and kills no fish or larvae.
The savings to LIPA in capacity payments and property taxes associated with the closed plants, together with the substantial fuel cost savings to LIPA resulting from the significantly higher efficiency of Caithness I, has more than offset the LIPA payments for capacity, property taxes, and fuel for Caithness I. As a result, LIPA’s overall costs of generation are lower than they would have been without Caithness I.
In the fall of 2015, the Caithness I plant had its first major scheduled overhaul. Caithness took advantage of the outage opportunity to improve efficiency and output, and reduce emissions below the already low levels at which Caithness I has operated for the past six years. Approximately 250 workers, including Long Island-based electricians, pipefitters, millwrights, boilermakers, and insulation and scaffold specialists, were on the site for the nine-week duration of the overhaul, which was completed in early December. Since the completion of the major outage, and except for a brief scheduled outage in the spring, Caithness I has operated continuously to provide LIPA with reliable, environmentally-friendly, low-cost energy. The next major overhaul is scheduled for 2021.
Being the newest and most efficient generating unit on Long Island, Caithness I has been dispatched at a very high capacity factor. Over the past six years, the annual capacity factor of the plant has averaged 75 percent. Correspondingly, old plants that are still part of the generating mix were operated at far lower capacity factors, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions as well as reduced fish and larvae kills.
Caithness continues to make progress on the development of Caithness II, the 750 MW combined-cycle plant to be co-located with Caithness I at the Yaphank site. In an important ruling in September of 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sided with Caithness against PSEG-Long Island regarding how transmission upgrade requirements for Caithness II should be evaluated. Using the procedures that FERC calls for, only minimal transmission upgrades would be necessary to connect the Caithness II plant to the grid for the purpose of power sales on an “energy-only” basis. Separately, the cost to interconnect the new plant into the LIPA transmission system, and allowing for its full deliverability throughout Long Island, has been reduced from earlier estimates of up to $1 billion to a now fully-vetted estimate of less than $170 million. As a consequence, the overall costs to LIPA’s ratepayers of Caithness II are significantly less than earlier estimates. When combined with retirements of older units that would be enabled by Caithness II, and the savings in annual fuel costs, the overall effect of the plant would be to lower LIPA’s cost of generating power.
Caithness II has been granted many of the required environmental and municipal approvals necessary to begin construction. If LIPA makes a decision to proceed with the plant this year, it could be online in approximately 30 months from the start of construction. PSEG has again delayed issuing its Integrated Resource Plan, and it is not clear when such a decision might be made.
About Caithness Long Island, LLC
Caithness Long Island, LLC, is a subsidiary of Caithness Energy, LLC, a privately held, New York-based independent power producer. For over 25 years, Caithness has been a pioneer in the development of clean, reliable energy. More information can be found at www.caithnesslongisland.com.
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Contact: Don Miller
West End Strategies, Ltd.