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Richard Kessel, Pres NY Power Authority

April 1, 2011 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Richard Kessel speaking at LIMBA this Friday began by reciting that the Long Island area was in very good shape as far as electric power is concerned. The building of the Cross Sound cable, and the Neptune cable has given the island an enormous boost. In addition the clean, gas fired plant built by Caithness Energy gives an additional asset.


He warns, however, that these are times when we do not have full employment and that picture will change dramatically as the economy improves.


As president of New York Power Authority some of his concerns are with upstate. While Long Island will test the limits of capacity in the coming good times, upstate will be very stressed. We need more power from transmission links to the Canadian Hydro sources and some local generation. In addition to the traditional generation and transmission strategies Kessel stated that renewable alternatives should be a part of the mix. Power from various sources must be the plan for the future.


NYPA is building out 100 megawatts of solar, admittedly a small amount in the grand scheme of things, but an important start nonetheless. He cited the use of tidal generators such as has been tested in the East River. Those generators failed because the designers underestimated the tidal potential and the swift currents destroyed the blades. That is actually good news because a properly designed unit can exploit that resource at a higher degree. He then addressed the potential savings realized by energy efficiency. We used to call that approach negawatts. Efficiency that saves 300 megawatts is far more desirable than building a 300-megawatt generating facility. Energy that is never created has a 0 carbon footprint and no construction costs.


Richard spent a little time on taxes imposed on utility plants, and the inevitable inequities that exist in assessing these plants. Kessel questions whether we should tax the utilities when they only pass the tax to the citizens anyway, or should we work out a fair tax directly to the end users of the product.


The Q&A portion of the meeting led us to talking about stored energy using flywheel systems, and pumped water. Kessel likes the pumped water systems that allow water stored during the night at high elevations to flow through generators during the high use day. It was pointed out that the Maglev Company can achieve the same results with a much higher efficiency and Kessel said he would look into the matter.


Superconductivity was also discussed. This allows the systems to carry three times the amount of power, and Kessel said recent testing of a section using the technology was very effective.


The summary was that we on Long Island are not in bad shape, but the entire state must continue to plan for the future and the solutions are myriad.