Danskammer Energy Appeals State’s Air Permit Denial
John Jordan | November 29, 2021
NEWBURGH—While environmental groups and state politicians, including Gov. Kathy Hochul praised the decision in late October by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to deny a key air permit for the Danskammer Energy project here, key business, trade and economic development organizations have lined up in support of Danskammer’s recently filed appeal of the DEC denial.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced on Oct. 27 that it had denied a Title V air permit for the $500-million Danskammer Energy Center project in Newburgh. The same day the DEC also rejected an air permit for the Astoria Gas Turbine Power project in Queens.
On Nov. 24, Danskammer Energy announced it had appealed the DEC air permit ruling. Danskammer Energy CEO Bill Reid said in a prepared statement: “Danskammer Energy disagrees with the NYSDEC’s denial of our federal Title V Air Permit and we are appealing the decision to preserve our rights as part of the agency’s administrative review process. We believe DEC is holding Danskammer to standards that don’t even exist because the Climate Action Council has yet to issue guidance on what it means to be consistent with the state’s new climate law.”
He added, “Further—as pointed out by the New York Independent System Operator in its 2021-2030 Comprehensive Reliability Plan—as more weather-dependent and unpredictable wind and solar are used to supply our electricity, New York needs power options like a repowered Danskammer that can quickly step in to keep the lights on. For these reasons, DEC’s decision to deny our Title V Air Permit was unjustified, and not in the best interests of New York residents or their future power needs.”
The Danskammer Energy project, which had been valued at $500 million, is in the Article 10 process before the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. The proposed project would convert the aging Danskammer plant into a 535-megawatt energy facility. The project cannot move forward without the Title V air permit.
In the DEC’s 14-page decision, Daniel Whitehead, director, division of environmental permits for the DEC, stated that Danskammer had the right to request an administrative adjudicatory hearing regarding the denial of its Title V Application. Danskammer was required to submit a request in writing within 30 days of that ruling.
The Independent Power Producers of New York, an Albany-based industry trade group criticized the denial of Danskammer and the Astoria Gas Turbine projects when first announced and praised Danskammer’s appeal.
IPPNY President and CEO Gavin J. Donohue said, “IPPNY members support Danskammer Energy’s decision to appeal the DEC’s denial of its Title V Air Permit. As I stated when the decision was handed down last month, New York will need power options that can start up quickly and back up wind and solar in order to keep our lights on. There has been no firm guidance provided for how permit decisions will be made under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and the DEC’s decision to deny seems largely subjective and bad policy. Danskammer provides New York with an opportunity to reduce emissions in the near-term and would assist New York in meeting its climate goals all while ensuring that New Yorkers aren’t left in the dark.”
The Orange County Partnership, an economic development organization based in Goshen, also expressed support for the Danskammer project. Orange County Partnership President and CEO, Maureen Halahan stated, “Danskammer Energy’s decision to appeal the denial of its air permit was necessary and welcomed by residents and businesses in the Hudson Valley. While the Partnership supports the growth of renewables, we must maintain and bolster the facilities that are the backbone of our energy system to ensure electric prices stay low and the lights stay on. The Danskammer Energy project would be a win for our local economy and all who live and work here.”
The project has also been supported by organized labor. Earlier this year it received a major endorsement from the New York State AFL-CIO. L. Todd Diorio, president of the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council based in Newburgh, said the more than 8,000 members of the 29 affiliated Local Unions of the building trades council are supportive of Danskammer’s decision to appeal the DEC ruling.
“This is a project that is good for the air, creates local jobs, lowers energy bills and has the support of dozens of local, stakeholders and organizations in the Hudson Valley,” Diorio, who is also business manager of Laborers Local No. 17 in Newburgh, said. “As the governor heads into what is likely to be a contentious primary, this denial was transparently political and she did not have the best interests of New Yorkers when she supported the denial of this permit.”
Diorio continued, “Let’s be clear, the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council is not anti-renewable energy and is working closely with elected officials to ensure renewable projects, such as solar, which is growing rapidly in the Hudson Valley, pay good wages and benefits like Danskammer has agreed to. We also believe the state’s CLCPA goals of 70% by 2030 are unreachable and this project is the perfect bridge. We thank Danskammer for continuing its efforts to bring 500 plus union jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue to our area.”
In announcing the denial of the Danskammer air permit, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, the project is not in compliance with the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. “The proposed project would be inconsistent with or would interfere with the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits established in the Climate Act,” Seggos said. “Danskammer failed to demonstrate the need or justification for the proposed project notwithstanding this inconsistency.”
The DEC’s denial drew praise from environmental groups like Scenic Hudson and from New York Gov. Hochul, who said, “I applaud the Department of Environmental Conservation’s decisions to deny the Title V permits for the Danskammer Energy Center and Astoria Gas Turbine Power, LLC in the context of our state’s clean energy transition. Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, and we owe it to future generations to meet our nation-leading climate and emissions reduction goals.”