Orange County Partnership - News

A Balanced Approach is Needed to Avoid Texas Energy Crisis Here

The energy catastrophe that has taken place in Texas recently had government officials pointing fingers and affixing blame on the failings of green technology, fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change etc. In fact, there is no one chief cause for the crisis, but it appears to be a systemic failure to address a host of issues.


In reading and watching broadcast news reports on the tragedy there, I could not help but think about New York State’s current energy situation. As Gov. Cuomo rolls out a very ambitious $26-billion Green Energy program, the last of the Indian Point Energy Center reactors will shut down this April. Although, state officials maintain the state’s energy grid has sufficient power to meet our needs, I hope that state officials are embarking on a balanced approach that embraces all technologies to meet our future energy needs.


Although the governor intends to significantly expand wind and solar energy in the state, wind and solar energy resources currently produce less than 5% of the state’s base load energy.


While wind and solar energy sources that employ clean technology are meritorious and should be pursued, there are other technologies that can supply significant power to the region as well that can balance the state’s energy production capabilities in a clean and efficient manner. For example, there is a $500-million project that has been languishing in the Article 10 approval process before the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. 


The proposed project by Danskammer Energy, LLC would convert the aging Danskammer plant in Newburgh into a much cleaner facility. An independent study found that an upgraded Danskammer plant would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 333,000 tons annually. This is equivalent to taking 70,000 cars off the road in Orange County or removing 56,000 homes from the grid. A modernized Danskammer will be capable of producing up to 600 megawatts of critical baseline power (enough to power roughly 500,000 homes) while using 50% less fuel—a huge gain in efficiency from its current operations.


Another notable technological feature of the project is that today the plant takes 11 hours to ramp up before producing any power. An upgraded facility will come online in minutes. When there is no sun or wind, a modernized Danskammer can come online quickly to provide reliable energy to the Hudson Valley. In addition, the power plant can transition to zero-emission hydrogen power when the technology is available to transport and store hydrogen.


Finally, Danskammer states that it is committed to pursuing the installation of battery storage in the existing plant building post-modernization. The building that presently houses Danskammer’s equipment and operations is well suited to accommodate battery storage.


In closing, the economic benefits of this project are enormous. In addition to the $500-million investment, Danskammer has entered into a Project Labor Agreement with the unionized building trades on the construction of the repowered facility. The project will generate 450 construction jobs and additional permanent jobs upon completion and operation of the facility. The work is expected to fuel an estimated $200 million into the local economy by way of wages. The project will also provide $50 million in tax revenue to fund essential vital local services, including education, health care and public safety for residents of Orange County.


In closing, let’s learn a lesson from the tragedy that has taken place in Texas. There is never one underlying cause for any problem, and there is never one solution to solve any problem. Let’s look to new technologies, no matter whether it is green or not, that can shape the state’s energy future and foster economic growth.