Zebrowski: Power Plant Siting Law Could Inject New Life, Jobs into Rockland County

August 4, 2011
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City) announced today that the governor signed into law the Power NY Act he sponsored (A.8510).

“For the first time in nearly a decade, New York has a power plant siting law,” Zebrowski said. “Now, high-polluting and under-producing facilities like GenOn, formally known as Mirant, will no longer be left to sputter along unchecked, bleeding jobs dry and leaving taxpayers behind to shoulder an increasingly heavy tax burden. Instead, these facilities will be given the tools they need to reinvent themselves and contribute to their host communities.”

Under this law, proposals that could cut down on existing facilities’ pollution or improve their efficiency will be fast-tracked to ensure the plants’ replacements don’t fall into the same bad habits. This law holds that any proposals for facilities generating at least 25 megawatts – down from the previous law’s 80-megawatt threshold – will require extensive analysis of potential health and environmental impacts. This analysis will also include the impacts of potential emissions within a half-mile radius of the proposed plant. What’s more, newly constructed facilities will have to conform to stringent federal and state emissions regulations.

In addition, any environmental justice concerns will have to be reviewed by a newly created siting board. The board will be made up of local appointees selected by the Speaker of the Assembly and Senate Majority leader from a pool of candidates submitted by locally elected officials. The measure boosts public participation by improving on the community-outreach process and increasing the maximum amount of intervener funding from $400,000 to $750,000, because no one knows what’s best for a community quite like its residents. The funding will be made available during both the pre-application and application processes in order to encourage community participation. Further ensuring the community’s say in the power plants that set up shop in their backyard is a provision that prohibits powerful authorities, like the New York Power Authority, from sidestepping regulations and assuming the lead role in assessing the environmental and health impacts of facilities they have either built themselves or caused to be built.

“Put simply, this measure is a victory for Rockland County,” Zebrowski said. “With a new-and-improved power plant siting law on the books, jobs, high-tech suitors and a cleaner community aren’t far away.”