Saturday, April 08, 2006

NY's Dirty Power Secret

There's a dirty little secret in the New York City Power grid. Rather than build additional capacity for peak demand days (normally the hottest days of summer), Con Ed and the city have a deal to run backup diesel generators located at various city facilities to make up the shortfall. These generators were built for emergency backup during power outages, and are filthy, dirty polluting machines. The deal allows Con Ed and the city to avoid the expense of a new power plant, and all the political problems of siting one. But a new plant wouldnt add much to electricity rates, and would be substantially cleaner. Here's an easy opportunity for cleaner power generation, yet the rhetoric doesnt match the results

Kennedys Kill Clean Power Project

A House-Senate conference committee slipped an amendment into a Coast Guard budget that effectively kills a major offshore wind project near Nantucket that would have provided up to 75% of Cape Cods' power. The amendment gives veto rights to Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, though he doesnt have them on any other type of power plant. This veto was engineered by the Massachusetts congressional delegation, led by Senators Kennedy and Kerry, supposed strong supporters of alternative energy in general and wind power in particular. The project was also opposed by Robert Kennedy and his Riverkeeper organization. It seems that alternative energy support only goes so far when NIMBY issues come into play. A more benign explanation might be that even so-called clean energy has environmental repercussions-environmental harm is in the eyes of the beholder. But this is particularly pathetic-the Kennedys would support a wind project in anybody's backyard that wasnt their own. What makes their opposition particularly egregious is that the best and most efficient locations for windpower are offshore like this project. I guess the Kennedy's views are more important.