Anti-fracking protesters gear up for fight against power plant conversion

Matt Richmond
August 12, 2013

Opponents of fracking are lining up against plans to convert a Tompkins County power plant from coal to natural gas, making it the newest front line in the fight against gas drilling in New York. The state’s Public Service Commission is considering a proposal to convert the Cayuga Power Plant or shut it down.

At a press conference in Ithaca on Monday, Dryden resident Joe Wilson held up the version of the repowering proposal that was made public.

“This is Cayuga Power’s offering. It is redacted…redacted…redacted…redacted and redacted.”

The proposal to the Public Service Commission lays out four options for converting the plant to natural gas. The cheapest plan would cost about $60 million. The most expensive option, about $370 million.

The redactions in the public documents include the timeline for finishing the work, the estimated cost of the power produced by each option, and how much it would cost ratepayers.

In response, Joe Wilson is trying a tactic that has worked to keep fracking out of New York: delay, delay, delay.

“I call on the PSC to extend its comment deadline so that we can review and digest the unredacted information.”

Ithaca lawyer Helen Slottje says the choice laid out by the state between repowering the plant and upgrading transmission is not the real issue.

“The governor is attempting to deflect public attention from the real issue here – how to best meet our energy needs and are we going to solve a transmission/reliability issue with the construction of a fossil-fuel generation station?”

Slottje is a co-founder of the Community Environmental Defense Council, which helped spread municipal fracking bans across upstate. She says they plan to fight the PSC for more public disclosure in court if it comes to that.