Controversial CPV Valley Plant in Orange County Goes Online

John Jordan | October 2018

An aerial view of the CPV Valley Energy Center in Wawayanda.

WAWAYANDA, NY—The controversial 680-megawatt CPV Valley Energy Center, owned by Competitive Power Ventures, is now operational.

Competitive Power Ventures announced on Oct. 1 that the $900-million natural gas plant achieved commercial operation and was supplying enough electricity to power more than 600,000 average homes.

The power plant, built by a joint venture of Skanska USA Civil Northeast, Inc., Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc. and ECCO III Enterprises, Inc., is operating while the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Competitive Power Ventures await a ruling on whether CPV required an air state facility (ASF) permit before becoming operational.

Back in August, project opponents secured a victory when the DEC denied a critical air quality permit that all but shut down operations at the fledgling and controversial CPV Valley Energy Center. However, the firm won a court ruling a day later that allowed the plant to continue operations until a final ruling was reached on the issue. At press time, public hearings on the dispute were held, but a final ruling had yet to be reached.

“I’m proud to announce the commercial operation on natural gas of the CPV Valley Energy Center. After nearly 10 years of development and construction, we are providing significant value to the area and New York,” said CPV CEO Gary Lambert when announcing the plant had gone online. “This facility will enhance the reliability of the Lower Hudson Valley electric system, reduce annual electricity costs to New York consumers by a forecasted $700 million while reducing carbon emissions by an estimated 500,000 tons a year. We look forward to being an integral part of the community for decades to come.”

“Our technology, service, and financing partnership with CPV’s Valley Energy Center in New York is a model for how Siemens can provide efficient, reliable, and low-carbon power to customers across the country while meeting state and local clean energy goals,” said John Gibson, Country Division Lead for U.S. Power and Gas, Siemens. “Siemens looks forward to providing homes and businesses throughout the lower Hudson Valley region with affordable and reliable energy.”

The newly operating facility created more than 3,000 construction jobs and the project now employs 23 full-time professionals.

In addition to local opposition to the plant’s construction and operation, much of the controversy that surrounds the project stems from the conviction earlier this year of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco on corruption charges.

Percoco, a former executive deputy secretary to Gov. Cuomo, was found guilty of soliciting and accepting more than $315,000 in bribes in return for assisting Competitive Power Ventures Inc. of Silver Spring, MD and Syracuse, NY-based real estate developer COR Development in business dealings with New York State. Percoco, 47 of South Salem, was convicted of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and solicitation of bribes and gratuities and was sentenced to six years in prison. Another former CPV executive Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr. was sentenced to 14 months in prison in connection with the corruption case.

The corruption case has led to Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and Riverkeeper to call for the state to pull the plant’s permits. However, the project has received support from some business and union trade organizations as well.

“The partnership’s mission as the lead economic development agency in Orange County, NY is to create jobs, expand the regional tax base and support infrastructure expansion. With hundreds of jobs created during construction, scores more during operations, along with millions of dollars of new tax revenue for the community, the CPV Valley Energy Center has helped us fulfill our mission and then some,” said Orange County Partnership President, Maureen Halahan.

“The Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council is proud to have partnered with CPV to bring this state-of-the-art electric generating facility online to help power the Hudson Valley into the 21st century,” said L. Todd Diorio, HVBCTC President. “Since first committing to use local union labor to build the CPV Valley Energy Center more than a decade ago, the company has kept their promises and been a great partner. The efficient, reliable energy and significant regional benefits provided by this project for decades to come are a big win for citizens of Orange County and the Greater Hudson Valley.”

Headquartered in Silver Spring, MD, with offices in Braintree, MA, and San Francisco, CA, Competitive Power Ventures has successfully developed or monetized 21 projects totaling 13 gigawatts of natural gas-fired and renewable generation assets. The company’s Asset Management division currently manages 8,897 MW of fossil and renewable generating facilities in nine states for 12 different owner groups.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth