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cpp_powerlines120After Governor Andrew Cuomo's announcement this week that the Dunkirk Power Plant  will be repowered under a 150 million agreement to repower and expand the Dunkirk to a 435 megawatt natural gas facility, the focus moves to Lansing's Cayuga Power Plant.  New York State Public Service Commission's decision on whether to repower the Lansing plant is expected December 28th, but Lansing Supervisor Kathy Miller and Tompkins County Legislator Pat Pryor say that without strong local support that decision may not be good news for the township.  Both made a plea to residents Wednesday to call Cuomo's office to register their support for repowering.

To register your opinion on repowering the Cayuga Power Plant call Governor Cuomo's Office at (518) 474-1041 before December 28th
"The fact that they decided to repower Dunkirk is not good news for us," Pryor said.  "However if you look at the technical aspects of power and energy in New York State it's very clear that the State needs this power plant.  They need this energy.  There's a very strong push by some groups to say that they don't need it and all they need to do is upgrade the transmission lines.  That might solve the problem temporarily, but it's not going to be very long before they do need a new power plant.  It will be a real shame if we don't convince them right now to keep this plant open, instead of closing this plant now and building another one someplace else a few years down the road."

Miller says that a widely circulted message went out to opponents of the plant this week to encourage them to let Cuomo know they oppose the repowering plant.  She said it is critical to counter "those negative phone calls" by getting as many town residents as possible to make their own calls in support of the project.  A representative from Governor Nozzolio's office told Miller that calls received so far seem to be making a difference, but Miller said it is important that as many Lansing residents as possible call.  She said the PSC received a mixed message at a public hearing held in Lansing last July.  At that meeting many Lansing residents supported the project, but a number of opponents from other nearby townships spoke against it.

"The whole town supported the repowering of Dunkirk," Miller said.  "Unfortunately when we had the public hearing in Lansing a lot of people spoke who were not in favor of repowering the plant, most, if not all of which were from other towns.  So it's imperative that we call the Governor's office and tell him we support the repowering."

Pryor noted that the Tompkins County Legislature is split on the topic.  She says that County Legislator Carol Chock (Ithaca) is a leader of a local group opposing the retrofitting of the plant.  Legislative Chair Martha Robertson (Dryden) supports repowering, but with biomass rather than natural gas.  Pryor has led the supporters of the repowering project, but says that none of the three would likely have enough votes to pass a resolution in the Legislature.

Support for Pryor's position is further complicated by a proposed pipeline that would be extended from Freeville to the Lansing plant through Dryden.  Pryor says that some Dryden legislators would support the repowering, but oppose running the pipeline through their town.  Although much of the pipeline is slated to run along NYSEG-owned property, concern about the exercise of eminent domain, safety issues and opposition to fracking and fossil fuels runs strong in Dryden.

Supporters of the repowering say Lansing's tax base will be devastated if the plant is closed, causing an immediate property tax rise of at least $600 for the average Lansing property owners.  It has been estimated that repowering will create or save 563 construction jobs and up to 90 permanent jobs.  Upstate New York Power Producers CEO Jerry Goodenough says the plant spent over $4 million dollars in the local community just in the first five months this year.

Miller says the difference between the Dunkirk and Lansing repowering plans is that Dunkirk had widespread support in its county, but Tompkins County is split.  Chock's organization has been joined by non-local organmizations such as the Sierra Club in organizing opposition to the repowering.  Miller said that makes it vital that Lansing residents take a few moments to call the governor's office in support of keeping the plant open.  Pryor said it will be a simple call that is well worth the effort to town residents.

"When somebody answers the phone just say, "I'm from the Town of Lansing.  I'm calling to let you know that I strongly support the repowering of the Cayuga Power Plant.'  They will register how many calls they get on this topic," she said.  "If you have access to email lists, friends, neighbors, family, anyone you can think of who can make this phone call, this is a very, very critical time."

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