New York Daily News -
Mayor cites need
to add generating stations

Monday, July 22nd, 2002

Mayor Bloomberg offered Con Edison a powerful plug yesterday, saying that expanding the utility's energy grid is a public challenge that "we cannot walk away from."

But walking away is precisely what critics say Bloomberg did when it came to putting a Con Ed substation in Manhattan's growing Chelsea neighborhood last month.

For years, the utility has owned a site at 24th St. and Sixth Ave., where it hoped to build a nine-story power station for a neighborhood growing three times faster than others in the city.

The city's Board of Standards and Appeals was expected to approve the project, at least under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said those familiar with the plan.

But a chorus of community opposition squelched the project in June, when the board nixed the project without a peep of dissent from City Hall.

Yesterday, Bloomberg seemed to be viewing the issue in a whole new light.

"We do not have enough power generation or distribution facilities," he told reporters two days after a blackout of parts of lower Manhattan. "And it is very difficult to site and build these kinds of facilities."

"These are long-term projects that we just cannot walk away from, no matter how politically unpalatable they are," he said.

Later, Daniel Doctoroff, deputy mayor for economic development, said City Hall was working with Con Ed to try to identify other possible sites for a substation in Chelsea, where the utility has had to place eight diesel-spewing generators to handle potential overloads this summer.

"We are going to do everything we can to make sure that Chelsea has the energy it needs," Doctoroff said.

Sources said the most likely spot for a substation is in a manufacturing zone on 30th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves.

However, unlike the 24th St. location, Con Ed doesn't own the site, meaning the utility would have to go through the long, often costly process of condemning it before a plant could be built.

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