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Open House Held for Potential New Power Plant in Shoreham

As LIPA considers proposals from a pair of power suppliers, one project held an open house on Thursday night.

As Long Island Power Authority officials continue to negotiate with two possible power carriers to site a new power plant, leaders of one of those projects – pitched to utilize the Shoreham Power Plant parcel – held an open house Thursday night to inform members of the public and answer any questions locals may have.

Held at North Shore Public Library, the informational session lasted from 4 to 8 p.m. and saw about 125 people come through and speak with members of the company proposing the project.

Illinois-based JPower, which currently operates four existing power plants on Long Island including a 79mW plant at Shoreham, is proposing a 400mW project dubbed the Tesla Generating Station – in honor of the famous scientist who worked out of Wardenclyffe.

The project would cost an estimated $500 million to build on the site of the decommissioned nuclear station. LIPA officials whittled down their list of finalists in October to the JPower project and a 700mW plant in Yaphank, next to the existing Caithness facility. Newsday has reported previously that bills can be expected to increase by about 2.5 percent by the time the additional project is operational.

JPower officials have been tentative to put an exact dollar amount on the amount the company would pay in lieu of taxes should the project be selected by LIPA, however pointed to Caithness' existing 350mW facility for comparison, which pays about $9 million per year. Steve Thome, vice president of development for JPower, said that 68 percent of the total PILOT payments will go toward Shoreham-Wading River School District.

So comparing existing numbers, considering the proposed Shoreham project is slightly bigger than the existing Caithness facility, Shoreham-Wading River School District could see over $6 million in budget relief annually. The rest would go toward Brookhaven Town and special taxing districts in the area such as fire and library.

Though the financial benefit didn't mean attendees on Thursday didn't have concerns, which JPower took in through survey sheets.

"Obviously they can't tell you about the negatives," said Alan Lebowitz, who attended the meeting. "But overall I do think it's a good thing. Possible employment, help with the tax burden, utilizing some of that dead space over there."

Sally Macken, a real estate agent who attended the informational with Lebowitz, said she feared for the real estate market.

"Some people don't want to live in the vicinity of a power plant, so I hope that doesn't have an impact on eroding value as it is," she said.

JPower's proposal on the 58-acre parcel attempts to quell environmental concerns by utilizing natural gas to power the electrical plant.

Thome said JPower had originally considered tapping into the Iroquois Pipeline, which runs from Connecticut to Northport and travels under the Long Island Sound, though said Thursday night that a more likely scenario would be to connect to a main under the Long Island Expressway and connect to the Iroquois at a later date.

Sid Bail, president of the Wading River Civic Association expressed noise and further visual concerns as JPower builds out more on the property. 

Bail said that while he's "not personally enthusiastic about this project, we are willing to work with JPower to – if they are anointed by LIPA, assuming there even is a LIPA in six months – make this the best possible project for everybody."

Suffolk Legislator Sarah Anker, whose district extends east following a redistricting process next year and will cover the area where the project is located, said she is hoping to meet with JPower officials sometime in January to learn more about the project.

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