View Full Version : Mayor Wants to Move Site of Power Plant

October 4th, 2003, 11:03 AM
October 4, 2003

Mayor Wants to Move Site of Power Plant


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that a large power plant that a private developer wants to build on a scenic stretch of waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn a plan that has drawn intense opposition from city officials and residents should instead be built in an industrial region of Greenpoint.

Mr. Bloomberg, speaking on his weekly radio show on WABC, told listeners that an abandoned petroleum site along the Newtown Creek "would be a much better place" for the 1,100-megawatt plant, which would be one of the largest in the city.

But while many Brooklyn residents said they supported moving the power plant from the waterfront, they were concerned about relocating it to another part of a community that already has a large sewage treatment plant.

Vincent V. Abate, chairman of Brooklyn Community Board 1, which covers both Williamsburg and Greenpoint, said, "Anything that is unwanted in one place is certainly not wanted in another place."

Councilman David Yassky said he had recently formed a coalition to clean the Newtown Creek, which is marred by oil slicks and rusty cars underwater. "This raises issues all its own," he said. "I don't know how it would impact the Newtown Creek and what the environmental consequences would be at this site."

In recent months, the Bloomberg administration has moved forward with an ambitious plan to transform a crumbling, 1.6-mile stretch of the waterfront with new housing and recreational areas. The proposed plant would sit in the middle of that redevelopment, and the mayor had pledged to come up with another site for it. On his radio show yesterday, the mayor said the 9.8-acre site in Greenpoint was better suited for a power plant because it could provide access to gas pipelines and the power grid without disrupting residential neighborhoods.

"It's already industrial," he said, "it doesn't hurt anybody, and given you have to build it someplace, this is a perfect compromise, or perfect solution, to a difficult problem that we always face of where do you put needed facilities that nobody wants in their backyard?"

A spokesman for the developer of the plant, TransGas Energy Systems, said that its engineering and environmental experts were reviewing the Greenpoint site, and would respond to the mayor's suggestion by Oct. 27. State officials are evaluating the $1 billion project, and are expected to make a decision on it by June 2004.

City officials have projected that they will need an additional 3,000 megawatts of electricity by 2008 to meet growing energy demands. Proposed projects, or those already under construction, would cover about 2,500 megawatts of that, including a 1,000-megawatt plant in Astoria, Queens, and a transmission line across the Hudson River that would deliver 600 megawatts.

The proposed plant would generate enough electricity to light about one million homes, and would burn relatively clean natural gas and recycle its waste heat to make steam that could be used to heat buildings.

Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff said city officials had looked at more than a dozen possible sites in Brooklyn, and seriously reviewed three others before settling on the one in Greenpoint, which is owned by the Exxon Mobil Corporation.

He said the city had retained a firm with experience in developing power plants, to ensure that the site would meet engineering, design, construction and environmental requirements for a power plant. He added that the city was not planning at this time to subsidize the project with taxpayer dollars.

The property was once used as a storage, blending and distribution site. But by the late 1970's, large amounts of petroleum had seeped into the ground, requiring state-ordered cleanup efforts. So far, about 1.5 million gallons of petroleum products have been recovered, state environmental officials said.

Barry Wood, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said the property had not been on the market and declined to put a price on it. He said the company was willing to consider selling it, but several issues would have to be addressed, like how the cleanup of the site would continue.

Matthew Burns, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is overseeing the cleanup, said that while state law did not prevent Exxon Mobil from selling the property, the new owner would be legally responsible for making sure that the cleanup continued.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

April 3rd, 2004, 07:34 AM
April 3, 2004

State Panel Rejects Brooklyn Power Plant


State examiners have recommended rejecting a private developer's efforts to build an electric power plant in Williamsburg on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Their recommendation is a significant strike against a plan that has drawn rancorous opposition from much of north Brooklyn and has drawn Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg into the fray.

The 135-page recommendation, issued late Thursday by two administrative law judges, is not binding on the state panel charged with approving power plant sites, but local elected officials and other opponents of the proposed plant described the recommendation in interviews yesterday as an indication that the proposal would almost certainly fail.

The development group hoping to build the plant, TransGas Energy L.L.C., vowed to demonstrate that the recommendation should be ignored when the state Siting Board issues its ruling, expected by early June.

The recommendation, written by Robert R. Garlin and Kevin J. Casutto, concludes that the plant would result in "significant adverse visual impacts that cannot be mitigated."

It further concludes that building the plant would poorly serve the applicable coastal management plan, in this case, the city's intention to rezone and redevelop the waterfront.

In that regard, the recommendation was a partial victory for Mayor Bloomberg, who has publicly opposed putting the plant at the Williamsburg site because it conflicts with his plans for the waterfront. Instead, he has suggested that the plant be constructed on a different site in Greenpoint near Newtown Creek, a location with a long industrial history that includes the spillage of millions and millions of gallons of oil, much of it still under the ground and in the creek."We are encouraged by the administrative law judges' recommendation and gratified that they understand the importance of the city's rezoning proposal for the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront," said Jennifer Falk, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

The examiners wrote in their report that the Greenpoint site was not a viable alternative, and that facet of their recommendation leaves Mr. Bloomberg with a continuing quandary. City officials have predicted that New York will need to add 3,000 megawatts of electricity by 2008.

TransGas, which has contracted to buy the Williamsburg site from Bayside Fuel Oil, has proposed a $1 billion, 1,100-megawatt plant, which would be the largest in the city and would convert natural gas to electricity, enough to light about 1 million homes. Len Shapiro, project manager for TransGas, said that the recommendation "ignores reality and is largely subjective."

"At a time of looming rate hikes for both steam and electricity, it mistakenly declares that all is well with the energy picture in New York City," Mr. Shapiro said. "At a time when a regional electric blackout can cripple the entire steam system on which New York's hospitals, businesses and residences rely for heating and air-conditioning, it cavalierly dismisses key reliability benefits from TGE. At a time when the peril of this nation's reliance on Mideast oil imports is a glaring weakness, the recommendation incredibly finds no public benefit to the natural-gas-fired cogeneration proposed by TGE."

Community groups and elected officials from north Brooklyn welcomed the decision.

"We've long been the dumping ground for the city," said Joseph Vance, co-chairman of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning, a coalition of 42 community groups. "If this thing is turned down, it sends a message."

Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol of Greenpoint called the recommendation a major victory for opponents.

"The examining board's decision reflects our dedication to revitalization of the waterfront, preservation of one of the most beautiful views in New York, as well as adherence to already existing laws pertaining to state coastal management," he said.

Councilman David Yassky, whose district includes parts of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, said the recommendation represented near-certain victory for opponents of the plant.

"This is strike three for the power plant proposal," Mr. Yassky said. "All that's left is for the Siting Board to call them out."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 22nd, 2005, 12:18 AM
Artist's rendering of landscaping over Brooklyn power plant, proposed by TransGas, which has offered $700 million for West Side railyard.


February 22nd, 2005, 12:59 AM
Whoa. Go for it.

February 22nd, 2005, 01:00 PM
All it needs is a giant ferris wheel and some concession stands. Well, at least this isn't my father's Oldsmobile, errr....mother's power plant?

TLOZ Link5
February 22nd, 2005, 06:50 PM
Doesn't the backdrop show the view of the west side of Manhattan?

February 22nd, 2005, 06:52 PM
Ya, it's posted in another thread around here and the poster's disclaimer was that it was really Jersey, but pretend it's Brooklyn.

August 20th, 2005, 01:07 AM
Businessman Battles the City for Power Plant


Published: August 20, 2005

At a time when the United States Supreme Court has granted local governments free rein to condemn private property on behalf of commercial projects, an energy entrepreneur says he is going City Hall one better: he plans to condemn some prime Brooklyn waterfront land himself.

Adam H. Victor, the president of TransGas Energy Systems, has sought for four years to build a $1.3 billion power plant on the East River in Williamsburg despite opposition from the community and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration. Mr. Victor ran up against a determined deputy mayor, Daniel L. Doctoroff, who preferred that the city condemn the land south of the Bushwick Inlet for a possible Olympic diving center and a waterfront park in the crumbling industrial neighborhood.

Then Mr. Victor found an obscure 1909 state law that lets utilities and railroads condemn and acquire land for their needs, including power projects.

The race to the courthouse was on. On June 26, Mr. Victor published a notice of his intention to condemn the eight-acre parcel where he hopes to build a 1,100-megawatt natural gas plant.

Within weeks, the city filed a pre-emptive suit on July 19 in Brooklyn Supreme Court to condemn the same piece of land as part of its effort to establish a 35-acre park in Williamsburg.

Both sides are predicting victory.

"We're confident that the court will grant our petition to acquire this property for park use," said Lisa Bova-Hiatt, a senior attorney at the city's Law Department. "Once it's been acquired by the city, TransGas will be precluded from proposing another public use for the property."

But Sam M. Laniado, a lawyer for TransGas, said the city had failed to hold a required public hearing on its condemnation bid in its rush to short-circuit the TransGas condemnation. Mr. Victor is expected to challenge the city in court and pushed forward with his own proceeding.

"They got into the courthouse first," Mr. Laniado said, "but they may get kicked out of court because they skipped some steps."

The TransGas plant got a boost recently when the New York Power Authority said it was on the short list of bidders for a license to build a plant within the city limits.

The legal battle means there is no foreseeable end to the four-year dispute between Mr. Victor and City Hall.

"It is unconscionable that the city of New York would employ the most draconian of measures - eminent domain - to thwart economic development, rather than promote it," Mr. Victor said. "The city would be better off fixing up the parkland it has on hand, rather than seeking to acquire more parkland for the sole purpose of stopping a project that's necessary for the city's economic future."

Bayside Fuel Oil Depot, which owns the land, prefers Mr. Victor's proposal to the city's, in part because the plant would pay more money, according to Vincent Allegretti, Bayside's senior vice president.

Some public officials acknowledged that the city needed power plants to meet the projected demands for reliable sources of electricity. But they contend that the TransGas project would stifle the redevelopment of the industrial waterfront along Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which offers spectacular views of Manhattan. The Bloomberg administration recently rezoned a 170-block swath of the neighborhood for high-rise residential and commercial development. A half-dozen developers have already put together large sites for projects.

"Approval of a big power plant in the waterfront area would jeopardize those projects," said City Councilman David Yassky, who represents the neighborhood.

But Mr. Yassky said that Mr. Victor, who owns three Hummers, was both "someone who believes strongly in energy consumption" and a persistent entrepreneur.

"He's extremely tenacious," Mr. Yassky said. "This project has already had six or seven strikes against it and he's still trying to get to first base."

In 2001, Mr. Victor, who made a fortune building a 2,500-megawatt power plant in Ithaca, first acquired an option to buy the grimy Williamsburg property from Bayside Fuel Oil for $50 million. Although power plants are about as popular as garbage transfer stations, he knew that state officials had identified a need for new generating plants within New York City that could help meet the growing demand for electricity.

Mr. Victor initially designed a futuristic complex that included art galleries and a sculpture park, but continued to encounter opposition. After state energy regulators criticized Mr. Victor's plans last year, he redesigned the complex, putting the power plant underground, below a seven-acre park that he hoped would gain the support of city officials.

But the city and Deputy Mayor Doctoroff, the architect of the city's failed bid for the 2012 Olympics, were unmoved.

So in the spring, Mr. Victor jumped into the middle of the struggle over plans to build a football stadium for the Jets over the railyards on Manhattan's West Side. He outbid the Jets and threatened to undermine Mr. Doctoroff's plan for an Olympic stadium on the site, offering to pay the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $1.05 billion for the railyards. The M.T.A. ignored his offer.

Mr. Victor vowed to persevere with his power plant. He said that he was not against a waterfront park, but that government has showed little ability to handle the parkland it already has. The state bought a five-acre parcel south of the TransGas site five years ago for the park that is little more than a rubble-strewn lot today. And the giant swimming pool at nearby McCarren Park has been closed since 1984, according to the Parks Department.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company