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Keyspan- Bob Teetz, Director of Environmental Engineering

April 13, 2007 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Today at LIMBA we had the opportunity to hear about what is going on with Keyspan Energy’s Emissions and Air Quality initiatives.  Bob Teetz, Directory of Environmental Engineering and Compliance for Keyspan, gave a broad and deep presentation of where our electricity comes from, what fuels are used to generate it, and what is being done to make the on island power generation cleaner.  An overview of the external interconnects for power importation, Keyspan’s own plants and third party plants was the first part of the presentation.  Keyspan doesn’t use any coal to fuel their plants, only #6 fuel oil, Jet Fuel, and Natural Gas are used.  These more expensive, cleaner fuels, contribute to our higher rates here.  The imported power is generated in several ways, including nuclear and coal.  Lower priced imported power is projected to serve a larger percentage of demand as the Neptune project comes online.  Most of Keyspan’s larger plants are dual-fuel, switching between Natural Gas and #6 low-sulfur oil.
Given this setup, an over view of emissions was presented, with some controversy.  In total pollutant output, Keyspan has the #2 producer, in the Northport power station.  This is mostly unavoidable, because it is the largest power station in the system at 1500 Megawatts, and I believe the largest station on the east coast.  When compared on a pollution quantity per megawatt generated, Keyspan comes out better than the national average, but you are also comparing that to coal-fired plants.  There was some contesting of the measurement of pollution and Keyspan’s standings in it, but a good picture of what is going on in general was presented.
We moved on to a primer on repowering generating stations, describing the way that the current power plants are architected.  Older technology conventional power plants run at approximately 34% efficiency.  Newer, combined cycle plants run at about 50% efficiency, and produce 90% less pollution.  They also use higher priced fuel, either natural gas or jet fuel.  Newer plants, also cannot use what is called once-through cooling, which takes massive amounts of seawater in and out of the plant to cool it.  They must use cooling towers, which sap efficiency, but don’t impact the aquatic environment as much.  The options for repowering each of the older base load stations were discussed, pros and cons.   Mr Teetz pointed out that some locations are not suitable for repowering. Northport would have to improve transmission lines to the site and the cost would be several hundred $million dollars. Port Jefferson on the other hand is less amenable to repowering because there is no more flat land on which to build.The opportunities for the future in terms of increasing capacity, burning cleaner fuels and scrubbing emissions were outlined.  A lively Q and A was held throughout, with our resident skeptics holding Bob’s feet to the fire, which he handled with aplomb.  In sum, there are some opportunities to make great strides in reducing powerplant pollution on Long Island, but there is some debate about whether this will make a big impact on air quality here, as our regional air quality is affected mostly by wind-borne pollution from the west, and locally generated transport pollution, cars and trucks.  Again, an important presentation on issues that affect us directly, in both our lungs and pocketbooks.  Another Friday morning well spent and well informed at LIMBA.