A Jolting Issue
Community Responds To
Bay Peaking Facility Proposal
LIPA, after analyzing data regarding electrical usage in the Rockaways last summer, had determined that there was a need for additional power on peninsula. While the Bayswater Peaking Facility, which was built last summer, has been useful in providing additional power to the peninsula, LIPA officials noted that the system came very close to being overloaded during peak periods this past summer. LIPA also stated that because of the enormous amount of construction and development in the Rockaways, there would undoubtedly be a greater need for electricity, and they contend that the new facility will fill that need.
According to documents filed with the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), which were made available to the public at the hearing, the project will consist of two Pratt and Whitney FT-8 gas turbines served by a common generator (FT-8 Swift Pac). The combustion turbines will operate as a simple cycle unit, and will be fueled by either natural gas or low sulfur distillate oil. FPL Energy proposes to install an oxidation catalyst system to reduce emissions of carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, and a water injection metering system along with Selective Catalytic Reduction to control formation of nitrogen oxides and other emissions. The emissions from the combustion turbines will exhaust through a single 110-foot stack. The existing gas line that serves the Bayswater facility will supply natural gas, and a new 300,000-gallon storage tank will supply distillate oil.
The documents also indicated that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) will provide the facility's water supply requirements of approximately 67,200 gallons per day. Process and sanitary wastewater will be routed via the NYCDEP sanitary sewer system to the Rockaway Water Pollution Control Plant located at the western end of the peninsula. Storm water from site runoff and secondary containment areas will be directed to an on-site retention basin, which discharges to ground water. Storm water from the secondary containment for the fuel oil storage tank and fuel transfer area will pass through an oil/water separator prior to being discharged to the retention basin. Overflow from the retention basin will discharge to the NYCDEP storm sewer line, which will ultimately discharge into Jamaica Bay.
FPL Energy states that the project will be a minor modification of the existing Bayswater Peaking Facility, and that it will be located next to the facility at the end of Bay 24 Street in Far Rockaway.
Peter Ford, FPL's Project Developer for the JBPF, gave an overview of the project before Administrative Law Judge Daniel P. O'Connell (of the NYSDEC's Office of Hearings and Mediation Services), and he did his best to convince residents and those representing elected officials that the project would not endanger the Rockaway community or environment in any way. However, the plan is not sitting well with some members of the community, and they each made presentations before O'Connell as well.
Joann Shapiro, Chief of Staff for Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, read a statement prepared by Pheffer in which she expressed numerous concerns about the FPL/LIPA project.
"I question the need for FPL and LIPA to build the plant so soon, after having built one plant already," noted Pheffer.
"The report states that the new facility will run on oil, and I have environmental concerns in that regard. It is inconceivable that this type of plant is being considered. LIPA has not acted in good faith, and we need to see detailed data regarding the true numbers on electrical service needs and how the project will affect the community's health."
City Councilman James Sanders, Jr. conveyed his thoughts through a list of guidelines that he wants FPL and LIPA to follow before any construction is to begin on the project. Sanders' Far Rockaway Office Manager, Alla Nesmith, stated the following on behalf of the Councilman.
"While we have a number of concerns about the new facility, we are most concerned about whether or not LIPA will support initiatives that will protect Rockaway's environment and offer cleaner energy sources."
Monica Norris, who serves as Deputy Counsel for Borough President Helen Marshall, posed several questions about the project.
"What will the impact of the new plant mean in terms of air quality?" asked Norris.
"Why is there such a need for this facility, and where is the data to support it? Also, how environmentally sound is the project?"
Norris ended by asking if the sense of urgency behind the project had anything to do with the fact that affluent residents are expected to move into Rockaway in the near future.
Local activist Norman Silverman stated that he is vehemently opposed to the project, and he urged the community to denounce the plan.
"We have to look at the fact that Rockaway already has the highest rate of asthma, cancer and respiratory problems of any place in New York City. I have concerns that building this new facility will only make matters worse and create more health problems in this community."
Bayswater Civic Association President Gloria Warshofsky told the group that while she does have concerns about the project, she has not received any complaints regarding issues of air quality regarding the Bayswater Peaking Facility. Warshofsky also stated that with the enormous housing boom and development that is underway, there is no doubt that an additional power source will be needed in Rockaway.
Representatives of Florida Power and Light presented the Bayswater Civic Association with a $25,000 check on Wednesday, December 18, and FPL spokesperson Deb Colton was quick to explain the action, as she felt the community might view the donation negatively.
"We made the donation to the Bayswater Civic Association because they have been good neighbors," said FPL spokesperson Deb Colton.
"This in no way has anything to do with the proposed project, and we simply want to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Bayswater Civic Association and the community."
Community residents who wish to file comments about the project may do so with the NYSDEC Division of Environmental Permits, Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-1750, attn: Kevin Kispert, Project Manager. All written comments must be postmarked by December 31, 2002.