Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill today announced that the Assembly passed legislation reauthorizing and amending the Article X process for siting power plants. The amendments will provide for enhanced community input into siting decisions and provide additional health-related protections.
The lawmakers stressed the Assembly Majority's continued commitment to provide clean, safe and cost efficient power across New York through the bill (A.8696), sponsored by Cahill. The amendments would reauthorize the expired Article X process, to provide a streamlined approval process to encourage that new electric generation is built to meet the energy and reliability needs of the state's energy consumers.
"Extension of Article X with important changes is an essential step toward meeting the state's long-term energy needs," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "The residents and businesses of New York rely on affordable, reliable and safe electricity sources. This amendment will allow more electric generation to keep up with the growing demand for power while providing additional environmental and health related studies to protect families and local communities throughout the state."
"The renewal of Article X will increase New York's current energy production and bring low-cost power to consumers. By expanding and increasing our energy supply, we can attract new businesses and industry to the state," said Cahill (D-Kingston). "The Assembly Majority recognizes the urgent need for cleaner, better and faster power and this legislation allows for better planning to meet our future energy requirements."
In order to improve environmental conservation and enhance public participation while expediting siting review, the Assembly legislation is designed to collect more information and studies on health impacts, maintain the 12-month application review period for major electric generating facilities and place responsibility on the appropriate state agencies.
The amended Article X passed today includes provisions that:
Improve local community representation on each siting board by requiring that local appointees be named by locally elected officials;
Require analyses of health and cumulative impacts of emissions in the affected area and that environmental justice concerns be reviewed by the siting board to protect the health of families in the local community;
Strengthen the community outreach process by requiring the use of multiple languages as appropriate as well as the use of community newspapers for notice requirements;
Increase the amount of intervenor funding from a maximum of $400,000 to $825,000 to allow municipalities and community groups more meaningful participation in the siting process;
Lower the "threshold" for the size of power plants for which Article X applies to 30 megawatts from 80 megawatts and for applying such threshold in cases where multiple plants are separately located but are proposed within the same community;
Require the applicant to provide a profile of air and water emissions, including micro particulates (of "2.5 microns or smaller") which are shown to cause and/or aggravate respiratory ailments;
Require the Department of Environmental Conservation, with the participation of the Department of Health, to conduct an examination of cumulative impacts of emissions from existing and potential sources in the community and an environmental justice analysis;
Require the Energy Research and Development Authority to examine how a proposed facility fits into the current energy plan and conduct a cost analysis of the proposed facility in comparison to alternative sources of energy including renewable and energy efficiency measures;
Require the Department of State to conduct an analysis of the proposal in light of state coastal zone management laws and policies and require the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to conduct an analysis of impacts on parks and open lands;
Require the submission of a security plan, to be done in consultation with the state Emergency Management Office;
Prohibit the Power Authority of the State of New York and the Long Island Power Authority from assuming the lead role in assessing the environmental and health impacts of facilities they either build themselves, or cause to be built; and
Require enhanced emission reduction requirements for acid rain pollutants and regulate power plant emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and mercury.