By Nathan Duke
State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (Dâˆ’Astoria) said he is concerned that the state’s New York Power Authority is attempting to keep the notorious Charles Poletti Power Project past January 2010, when it has been scheduled to shut down.
NYPA had agreed to close the plant, deemed the city’s worst polluter, early next year. On Dec. 31, 2005, the authority started up a new clean and energyâˆ’efficient 500âˆ’megawatt plant to replace the Poletti plant.
In May, the authority approved a new plant that would be constructed by Astoria Energy LLC and open in 2011. NYPA has also proposed constructing a cable under the Hudson River that would transport electricity from plants in New Jersey. Both plans were devised to make up for energy lost by the closure of the Poletti plant, NYPA said.
But Gianaris said government sources and industry representatives have told him that the authority is exploring options to keep the Poletti plant open past January 2010 or replace it with a new plant.
Roger Kelley, NYPA’s former president, told industry officials two years ago that the authority would consider building a new plant if its plans to replace the Poletti plant fell through, Gianaris said.
“It’s encouraging to hear them say they’ll follow through and close Poletti on time, but I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said. “If not, I’ll be in court faster than they could bat an eyelash. If they think they can find a way to get out of it, they have another thing coming.”
The authority could not be reached for comment.
Gianaris said he sent a letter to new NYPA President Richard Kessel last month.
He said he believed the authority’s plans to replace the Poletti plant might not come to fruition.
“They’ve entered into two contracts that are unlikely to produce any electricity,” he said.
He said the Hudson River proposal and Astoria Energy’s new plant might never be completed due to excesses of actual cost over budget and tight credit.
Gianaris said he and community activists would support proposals to repower existing plants in the community by installing cleaner energyâˆ’producing technology. He said the US Power Generating Company and NRG Energy Inc. have created proposals to upgrade their western Queens plants.
In the meantime, he said he would put pressure on NYPA to close the Poletti plant on its scheduled date.
“I don’t intend to let them do anything other than what they have agreed to do,” he said.
Elected officials have long said that western Queens generates an estimated 60 percent of the city’s power.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by eâˆ’mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 156.