—Second time a NY Court rules against Port Jefferson’s efforts to block Caithness II —
YAPHANK, NY ― August 11, 2016 ― A New York State Supreme Court judge has once again ruled against the Village of Port Jefferson in its efforts to block the Caithness II power plant project in Yaphank. Justice Jerry Garguilo dismissed Port Jefferson’s lawsuit seeking to annul the Town of Brookhaven’s Industrial Development Agency’s (IDA) approval of a 25-year agreement under which the IDA and Caithness II agreed upon payments that would be made by the project to the Town.
For several years, the Village and the Port Jefferson School District have sought to block Caithness II out of a concern that if the plant were built, the Port Jefferson power plant might no longer be needed. In 2015, the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) ratepayers paid $27.6 million in property taxes on the now obsolete Port Jefferson plant, built in the 1950s, a substantial portion of which went to the Village of Port Jefferson and the Port Jefferson School District. Tax assessments on the plant are among the very highest in the country per megawatt of capacity and the extraordinarily high tax assessments for the Port Jefferson plant and other similar plants on Long Island have long been identified as one of the major reasons why Long Island’s electric rates are among the highest in the nation. In contrast, the IDA agreement with Caithness II that Port Jefferson sought to annul calls for payments averaging $19 million per year for a plant that is brand new; one- third more efficient, and twice the size of the Port Jefferson plant.
In its July 14, 2016, ruling, the Court held that the Village lacked legal standing to bring the case and that its allegation that the IDA failed to have a quorum present at the subject public hearing was invalid. The Court noted that the Village failed to prove that the Caithness II project would cause any environmental or economic injury, beyond “mere speculation or conjecture.” In May 2015, the Court similarly dismissed another lawsuit brought by the Village of Port Jefferson challenging the Town of Brookhaven’s environmental review and approval of the Caithness II project. In that ruling, the Court also held that the Village failed to show its claims that Caithness II would harm the Village were without merit and based solely on “speculation and conjecture.”
It is ironic that the Village challenged the environmental review of the 750 MW Caithness II project. The Port Jefferson plant, which the Village is seeking to protect, emits 50% more greenhouse gasses, 50 times more nitrogen oxides, and ten times more carbon monoxide per megawatt hour of power generated than would Caithness II. Furthermore, the Port Jefferson plant uses water from the Long Island Sound for cooling, a system that is no longer permitted to be installed on new plants because it kills substantial numbers of fish and fish larvae.
Although the Village would like to have a new plant constructed at the site of the Port Jefferson plant so that it can continue receiving tax payments, no proposal for such a plant was submitted when LIPA last requested proposals for new generation despite LIPA’s extending the time period for responses specifically so that such proposals could be prepared. The Port Jefferson plant site is highly constrained, necessitating design modifications that would complicate the permitting of a facility there and add significantly to the cost of constructing a new plant at that location, considerations that may have dissuaded the plant’s owner from submitting a bid for a new plant.
“Caithness is pleased with the State Supreme Court’s ruling that the Village of Port Jefferson lacked the legal standing to challenge the legitimate actions of the Brookhaven Industrial Agency on the Caithness Long Island II project,” said Ross D. Ain, President of Caithness Long Island II, LLC. “Over the 25-year life of the project, Caithness will pay more than $446 million in lieu of taxes to local municipalities, and save LIPA ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel costs, among other significant economic and environmental benefits.”
The Caithness II project has received many of the required environmental and municipal approvals to begin construction, which is expected to take 30-months to build while creating 500 local construction jobs. Caithness is awaiting the PSEG-LI integrated resource plan review to see how it values the significant contribution the new plant can make to saving ratepayers significant fuel charges, improving the air and significantly lowering CO2 emissions which contributes to climate change, and allowing for the successful integration of renewable energy by having a state-of-the-art plant that can cycle quickly and efficiently to back up the intermittency of renewable power production.
About Caithness Long Island II, LLC
Caithness Long Island II, 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.