Saturday, November 19, 2011

After two outs before the NYPSC, Covanta back at bat

New Jersey-based Covanta Energy Corp. struck out in previous tries in 2004 and 2010 to convince the New York Public Service Commission that its technology of burning waste to create electricity should qualify for renewable energy state subsidies.

The company was back at the plate on Thursday. Once again, it failed to get a hit, but didn't strike out either.

Despite a recommendation by staff to reject Covanta's request, the PSC decided to postpone action pending further study.

The Times Union reported that Acting PSC Chairwoman Patricia Acampora said she wanted more information about how other states and countries view trash-burning as a renewable energy source. She ordered the Covanta request set aside until further notice.

Howard Jack, an administrative law judge for commission, said pollution emitted by the plants, while reduced in recent years, still remains significantly higher than emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Covanta did not demonstrate that renewable energy subsidies are needed to support burn plants, Jack said, adding the plants have already operated for many years without subsidies. The subsidy under the Renewable Portfolio Standard comes from a surcharge on electrical bills.

Covanta spokesman James Regan said it was unfair to compare burn plants to coal-fired power plants. He said burn plants have lower average emission than landfill methane electric plants, and biomass, where fuel like wood is burned, Both of those technologies already qualify for renewable energy subsidies.

Covanta operates plants in Dutchess County; in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island; in Onondaga County in central New York; and in Niagara County in western New York.

Covanta is seeking subsidies on new projects, not its existing plants, Regan said

Bob Hanna to replace Lee Solomon at the NJBPU


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