Orange Environment, Inc. settles with Calpine, Inc.
Contact Orange Environment at 845-294-0751 for comment
Orange Environment, Inc.’s intervention into the Article X proceedings over the permitting of Calpine Corporation’s proposed gas-fired power plant in Wawayanda has resulted in a settlement agreement aimed at mitigating key impacts of the plant. Specifically, the settlement calls for the creation of a $50,000 research project intended to identify sources of particulate and other air pollutants of significance to health for residents of the area surrounding the plant and a $500,000 fund for implementing projects to reduce these pollutants. The project and mitigations will be supervised by OEI and directed by OEI in conjunction with the Wawaynada Citizens Advisory Group, another intervenor in the permit hearings.
OEI will also direct in cooperation with Calpine a continuing energy education program directed to adults and children and seeking to inform the public about energy and air pollution. This project is funded for an initial $25,000 startup, with $12,000 in yearly support thereafter.
Finally, the settlement calls for the creation of a parties of interest organization that will involve local stakeholders in ongoing oversight of the project, in cooperation with regulatory agencies and Calpine.
OEI President Michael R. Edelstein praised the settlement as a concrete step toward cleaner air and clearer thinking about energy in Orange County. He said, “Gas-fired turbines are useful to think about as a transitional electricity generation method until we are prepared to use renewable energy sources (those based upon the sun and nature). They are much cleaner than previous electricity generation methods. At the same, time they continue our dependence on fossil fuels. It is only by focusing on how to make the transition to renewables that projects such as this are acceptable. This settlement provides funding for education about how to make this transition. Moreover, it also addresses our main concern about air pollution, namely the generation of small particles (PM 2.5). With the help of Dr. George Thurston and Ms. Ramona Lall of New York University, OEI was able to document the importance of this issue to the health of our residents. The settlement responds to this evidence by providing research and mitigation funds to reduce local hazards. And, finally, the settlement adopts OEI’s approach to providing citizen oversight and involvement with regard to this project. By empowering, informing, and involving citizen stakeholders to work with the plant and regulating agencies, this public oversight process will be instrumental in keeping the plant on the right track in the years to come. In sum, while we might not have chosen to have a power plant in our midst, given the favorable regulatory climate for permitting such plants, we had less of a chance to defeat the plant than to try to mitigate our concerns about it. With this settlement, we have come along way toward insuring that the health and energy impacts from this plant will be addressed over time. A means for the plant to win the trust of the community has been created even as citizens are empowered to ensure the plant’s proper operation. In sum, with this settlement, we have a chance to make this facility a positive part of our community.”