2004-01-30 / Community

Pheffer Sets Power Plant Legislation

Pheffer Sets Power Plant Legislation

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer has announced the passage of legislation that would give the public a greater voice in the siting of power plants, hold state power authorities accountable for their actions, and help the state modernize its power generation facilities (A.6248-B).

"This comprehensive legislation strikes a balance between the energy needs of the state and the health and safety concerns that must be considered when building a power plant," Assemblywoman Pheffer said. "I supported this because it will better involve the public in the power plant siting process and help the state foster cleaner, more modern power generation facilities."

In a series of public hearings, the Assembly heard of numerous in stances of the existing power plant siting process being circumvented. This bill closes the loopholes that eliminated local input and redresses the balance between developers and affected communities.

Assemblywoman Pheffer added that the legislation would help the state meet the demand for clean, reliable and affordable energy, making New York more attractive to high-tech industries and their good-paying jobs.

"For too long, power plant siting decisions have been made by just a few people without adequate regard to the health and safety concerns of the public," Assemblywoman Pheffer said. "This legislation will allow members of the community to have their say about power plants that may be built in their towns and cities."

Specifically, the legislation would lower the threshold for required public input on the construction of power plants from 80 megawatt facilities to 30 megawatt plants, increase the amount of intervenor funding from a maximum of $400,000 to $500,000 – giving communities and other interested parties more help studying the impact of power plants; and protect the health of families by requiring analyses of health, emissions, and environmental justice impacts.

The Assembly’s bill would also improve local community representation on power plant siting boards by requiring that appointees be named by locally elected officials, instead of by the governor. Power generators would also have to provide notices in multiple languages to community newspapers so the public is adequately informed.

The legislation would prohibit the Power Authority of the State of New York and the Long Island Power Authority from taking the lead role in assessing the environmental and health impacts of facilities they either build themselves or contract to be built.

"This bill would end the virtual free reign NYPA and LIPA currently enjoy," Assemblywoman Pheffer said. "The loopholes that allow state power authorities to skirt meaningful public scrutiny must be closed."

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