New Athens Generating Company (NAGC), the tri-stacked power station which was permitted in 2001 in Greene County amidst great controversy, has quietly proposed an expansion of its transmission capacity to the New York Energy Highway Task Force. A brief overview by the company, found buried at the Task Force’s website, can be downloaded via this link [PDF].
The move is intended to increase the amount of electricity moved by the facility by as much as 5.7 million megawatt hours (MWH) annually. The proposal also alludes to the measure as something of a stop-gap “until a larger transmission project is installed to alleviate congestion between Leeds and Pleasant Valley.”
An Albany source summarizes the technical proposal as follows:
In layman’s terms, they are seeking permission to install equipment and software upgrades that would allow them to pump more MW through the existing transmission system in order to serve higher demand Downstate, and overcome the hard infrastructure bottleneck that current transmission lines through mid-Hudson Valley represent.
In short, while the proposal would not technically expand the existing plant, it would allow it to tap into existing capacity that it can’t currently use—a de facto expansion, at least for those downwind, in that Athens Gen would substantially increase the amount of power produced and therefore the frequency of its plumes in certain weather conditions.
(Though the plant was permitted in part on the flimsy promise that there would be no visible plumes—ostensibly satisfying the concerns of several intervenors—in practice tall, billowing plumes are often visible from numerous sites in Greene and Columbia County during colder months. Any increase in activity would likely increase the frequency of these supposedly non-existent plumes.)
Made in conjuction with National Grid, the proposal describes the plant’s existing 1080MW capacity as “nominal,” i.e. that it is not currently operating at full capacity. The somewhat turgid language of the proposal appears to say that its present technology allows for only 330MW to be transmitted at a time. Their apparent intention is to double that amount by upgrading the facility from a Special Protection System (SPS) to an Enhanced Special Protection System (ESPS), and sending the resulting increase “downstate.”
NAGC claims that no permitting will be necessary to complete this project, except perhaps from the generally industry-friendly Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).