New York Daily News -
Sour on power push
Tuesday, August 19th, 2003

Brooklyn activists battling new power plant projects are worried that the huge blackout last week may give a push to the controversial plans.

"Of course we're worried," said Elizabeth Yeampierre, head of UPROSE, the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park, which has led the fight against two power plants proposed for the Sunset Park waterfront.

"It definitely concerns us. The first sites they always look at are environmental justice communities," she said, referring to low-income and minority communities that are frequently home to power plants, waste transfer stations and other unpopular facilities.

"This is an area where there are already four power plants and a waste transfer station," Yeampierre added.

Across Brooklyn, in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, advocates who have fought another proposed waterfront power plant echoed the concern.

TransGas Energy System, a private developer, is applying for state permission to build a 1,100-megawatt co-generation steam and electricity plant at N. 12th St. and Kent Ave.

The two north Brooklyn neighborhoods already are home to six power plants along a 1.5-mile stretch of waterfront, as well as more garbage facilities than anywhere else in the city, activists said.

"The community is concerned that they are going to use this as an opportunity to scare people into saying that we need this power plant," said Edward Vale of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Waterfront Task Force.

"But we're organized and we're confident that we can stop the plant," he added.

Experts have said the cause of last week's blackout was faulty transmission systems - not a dearth of power.

City seeks new sites

But speaking to reporters over the weekend, Mayor Bloomberg said the city needs more power plants, as well as updated transmission systems throughout the state to maintain reliable electricity.

"We've been upgrading power plants. And we are trying to site a few more here in this city," the mayor said Saturday. "It is a very controversial thing. But in the end, you have to do it."

Bloomberg, who has come out against the proposed Greenpoint-Williamsburg project, noted that his administration supports building a park instead of a power plant at that location.

But he added, "There are three other places we're trying to come up with," meaning, mayoral spokesman Jordan Barowitz said yesterday, that the city is looking at three different sites for a power plant. Barowitz declined to provide specifics.

The Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, a seven-member panel appointed by Gov. Pataki, ultimately decides where power plants can be located, not the mayor.

"Adding more power plants is not the solution. In fact, it seems like it's the problem because the grid can't handle it," said Rolf Carle, an organizer with the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Waterfront Task Force.