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PSEG’s ‘Utility 2.0’ long-range plan is a welcome step in the right direction away from fossil fuel dependence, but it doesn’t go far enough, renewable energy advocates told the state public service department Tuesday during a sparsely attended hearing in Riverhead.

The $200 million PSEG-LI says it will commit to developing renewable energy resources isn’t nearly enough, they said, to make a difference in the future provision for Long Island’s energy needs.

Advocates praised PSEG-LI for backing off plans by LIPA to build 585 megawatts of generating capacity beyond what a state PSD analysis said would be needed by 2022, including shelving plans for the Caithness II gas-fired power plant LIPA sought to build in Yaphank.

Very few people attended an information session and public hearing on PSEG-LI's 'Utility 2.0' plan Tuesday morning at the county center. (Photo: Denise Civiletti)“LIPA master planning was wrong — terribly wrong,” energy consultant Thomas Bjurlof said.

PSEG recognizes that “Long Island’s energy problem exists withitn the confines of summer peak and is not a year-round issue,” Stefan Rosen of Middle Island said.

But PSEG’s plan doesn’t take the right approach to fulfilling those peak needs, Rosen and others told PSD director Julia Bovey and assistant counsel Guy Mazza during the hearing in the legislative auditorium at the county center. The hearing came after a 45-minute information session, during which PSEG-LI planning and evaluation manager Dan Zaweski outlined the contents of the the ‘Utility 2.0’ plan.

The utility company’s plan also fails to embrace New York’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” initiative, advocates complained.

Rosen, a school teacher, likened PSEG’s plan to a local school district preparing “a new curriculum knowing that the common core curriculum will be rolled out next year.”

“How much of that $200 million will be spent on technology that will be obsolete in light of REV?” Rosen asked.

He called on state regulators to halt the “Utility 2.0” plan and refocus PSEG on implementing the REV initiative on Long Island.

“REV seeks to establish a free market where various electric providers can compete against each other and tap into the grid, and the bills for innovation are not footed by the rate payer but instead are footed by confident shareholders who are willing to invest in the innovative technology,” said Andrea Barracca, also a school teacher and also a Middle Island resident.

“As the NY REV plan proposes, why can’t PSEG open the grid up like an eBay marketplace?
This marketplace would allow for innovative power generation and storage companies specializing in solar, wind, biomass, hydrogen and batteries to feed into the grid,” Rosen said. “All this electricity would ultimatley be purchased by consumers in an open, regulated marketplace,” he said.

Medford resident Donald Seubert criticized the plan for not setting any goals or targets for renewable energy or conservation.

The Caithness power plant in Yaphank. (Photo: Caithness Energy)“This plan is 95-percent fossil fuel,” Seubert said. He also complained that none of the PSD hearings were scheduled in Brookhaven, the town where all the county’s power plants are located — in Holbrook, Shoreham, Yaphank and Port Jefferson. Seubert called for a roundtable meeting in Brookhaven.

Seubert complained that “much of this [plan] is directed at the East End. “You’re using money out of your capital and operations budget to fulfill their needs and the other parts of Long Island,” which Seubert said are “less affluent” are being neglected, he said.

Peter Maniscalco of Manorville, an environmentalist who fought LILCO’s Shoreham nuclear power plant and Broadwater’s off-shore liquefied natural gas terminal proposed for the Long Island Sound off Wading River, demanded PSEG aim to meet 100 percent of the island’s energy needs with renewable energy.

That sentiment was echoed by other speakers, including Mary Ann Johnston, president of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organizations.

“The island does not wish to be the last fossil fuel generator in the county,” Johnston said. “We have whole communites where the air is the worst in Suffolk County,” Johnston said, “and Suffolk County is the worst in New York state.”

Port Jefferson Village trustee Bruce Miller advocated “re-powering” the Port Jefferson plant, which he said will save rate payers $127 million. The plant, he said, “can play an important role as a bridge to a future more amenable to renewable energy.”

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio addressed state public service department officials during a hearing on PSEG's long-range energy plan Tuesday. (Photo: Denise Civiletti)Long Island will require “baseload support” to address residents’ needs 24/7/365, Miller said. The Port Jefferson plant can help eliminate the island’s dependence on cables that currently deliver 1 gigawatt each of electricity from Connecticut and New Jersey.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio pitched the Enterprise Park at Calverton as a site for a new “peaker plant” to handle peak summer demand. The town has its eye on developing an “energy park” at the former Grumman site and submitted a proposal to LIPA/PSEG for a power facility sized to meet peak-period demands.

But building new fossil fuel power systems would be wrongheaded, Barracca told regulators.

“As the utility of the future PSEG should be giving wind and solar priority, using exisintg fossil fuel sysetms only as backup and refusing to construct any additional fossil fuel systems on Long Island — especially for meeting peak demand,” Barracca said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.