Citizen Call To Action
Please attend the upcoming Town of Ulster (ToU) Regular Town Board Meeting on Thursday, December 21st at 7:00pm and request the following during public comment (*)
- Support the Town of Ulster Town Board to declare a positive declaration for the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center project. VIEW our Facebook Event
- Suggest that the proposal that seeks to reconnect natural gas infrastructure consider creating a 100% renewable project with battery storage.
(*) Citizens are invited to give public testimony at the beginning of the regular ToU Town Board meeting on any items that are listed on the agenda (at this time, the agenda is not yet posted. We will update the public on our Facebook event page when it is available. Please ‘like’ our event for updates VIEW). Citizens will have another opportunity to speak that evening on items not on the agenda at the end of the Town Board meeting. We ask that citizens be respectful when addressing the Town Board, and particularly those who do not live in the municipality. Keep your testimony to 3 minutes or less.
On Thanksgiving day while making a holiday meal for friends and family, I received news from a guest that a gas-fired power plant had recently been proposed in the Town of Ulster.
“Fracked gas” they said.
In addition, the Town of Ulster had its regular Town Board meeting a few days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday where the applicant and consultant gave a short presentation followed by the Town of Ulster making a request to be Lead Agency in SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review). That gave Involved Agencies only a 30 day window starting before one holiday to another (figures) to dispute their request, if applicable.
After eleven years, I had planned to step away from my volunteer work at KingstonCitizens.org to focus my efforts solely on my part time position in Water Quality at Riverkeeper (which I love, by the way) and my music career, come 2018. The news certainly dashed my plans. The balancing act continues!
A peaker project in the Town of Ulster. It wasn’t unfamiliar to me. In February of 2015, when Niagara Bottling pulled their proposal from a Tech City location in the Town of Ulster, I remembered hearing rumors of such a project and thinking to myself that after coordinating an intense five month citizen campaign and now having to find a way to move a timely charter change to address water powers with a referendum in the fall of that year, I’d have to come back to it if or when it appeared.
In November of 2017, here it was.
Didn’t Ulster County just recently install a large solar array near this location (and that feeds into the Lincoln Park substation, the same substation that would be used by this proposed project)? Furthermore, in December of 2016, Ulster County was prominently featured by National Geographic to highlight some of the County’s environmental achievements. That’s international coverage. So how would a natural gas power plant fit into our progress? Who attracted a midwestern company to come to the Town of Ulster with such confidence to propose such a thing? At the December 7th Town or Ulster Town Board Workshop meeting during public testimony, a citizen called it a ‘tale of two cities’. “How do you have a solar array project on one end of a property and a natural gas power plant on the other?”
READ the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF)
I’m about to get into a whole bunch of technical stuff to the best of my ability, only because I want readers to understand how the coalition letter came to pass as well as our call to action. SEQR is nothing new. I’m hoping that you will recall some of this language from the Niagara Bottling and/or the Pilgrim Pipeline proposals. If you need a refresher, you can go here VIEW
In the project’s environmental assessment form (link above), the “Lincoln Park Grid Support Center” is described, in part, in this way:
“The Applicant, Lincoln Park DG, LLC, is under contract to acquire three tax parcels between NYS Route 32 and US Route 9W in the Town of Ulster which total 120.92 acres, and proposes to construct the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center on a 4± acre portion of the property, with access from Frank Sottile Boulevard. The proposed facility is a natural gas-fired power plant that will supply power to the electric grid in the region….The facility will include a system of containerized batteries and a reciprocating engine generator system that is fueled by natural gas, with the capability to use on-site diesel when the gas supply is disrupted. The generator system will be housed within a steel Butler building and will require two exhaust stacks for combustion emissions which will be a maximum of 100 feet in height. The system will be available to the grid 24 hours a day and will operate based on the needs of the grid, with very little operation on some days and continuous operations on other days. The facility is expected to operate an average of 6 to 14 hours per day. Fuel combustion will result in primary emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and carbon monoxide (CO), and will require an air permit from the NYSDEC. Some ancillary waste will also be produced including used lubricating oil and reagent as part of equipment maintenance.”
On first glance looking at the list of Involved Agencies, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) seemed the best choice for a project that could be seen as a regional one, with potential environmental impacts that include air emissions, visual impacts, wetlands, the project footprint being within close proximity of a principal aquifer, cultural resources and threatened/endangered species There might be others. As a local matter, there were potential inconsistencies in the Town’s comprehensive plan and zoning code and concerns of something like this being built only approx. 600 feet away from a residential area.
Once a Lead Agency is designated, they may make a determination of significance for the proposed action (project) as being a positive declaration (pos dec) or negative declaration (neg dec) in SEQR. A pos dec in simple terms means that the project may result in having one or more significant adverse environmental impacts, triggering a full scoping process (to identify all of the potential impacts) with opportunities for public comment and then for appropriate studies to be identified and paid for by the applicant. A neg dec, means that the proposed action benefits “outweigh its adverse impacts” and would move the project to its site plan without any public comment. As a side note, a neg dec allows the applicant to apply/secure any public funding that might be available to its project.
It was clear that the proposal warranted a positive declaration, but you have to build a case for it to be so. What might be obvious is still only speculation until there is evidence.
We are fortunate in our region to have so many wonderful organizations who are forward thinkers, advocating on a whole host of protections. The SEQR process is an important tool that is unique to New York State, and I would like to thank Scenic Hudson who led the charge to create a letter in support of the NYSDEC as Lead Agency of the proposal and a Positive Declaration in SEQR by providing real potential environmental impacts. Their letter was signed by other critical partners, the core group of a growing coalition who are not against the proposal, but in favor of a good public process.
READ: Lincoln Park Grid Support Center – SEQR Review
To the Town of Supervisor James Quigley’s credit, at the ToU Town Board workshop meeting on December 7th, he stated at the end of the evening that when/if the Town of Ulster Town Board becomes Lead Agency of the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center that, “….given the nature of the project, and the sensitivity of other projects along the ridge, the project will be a pos dec and a full environmental impact statement to analyze the project to include a public scoping session, and testimony taken when the public is given a copy of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).”
LISTEN: Starts at 50:00.
Although KingstonCitizens.org supports the NYSDEC as Lead Agency of the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center project, we are prepared to work with the Town of Ulster who may fulfill this role. In either case, there will be a great deal of work ahead for the public with a Positive Declaration determination to study the potential impacts.
The future are renewables. One doesn’t need to look very far to read about the advancements being made in the world of solar and battery storage. As I understand it, there are statistics that show our area as having one of the highest number of home solar installations in the State, providing proof that citizens understand the importance of being a part of the clean energy movement. I, for one, will never in good conscience be able to support the creation of more fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s stubborn, antiquated and polluting. Instead, I see this project as a potential opportunity. The Town of Ulster’s success is important to us all. How might we support them and the current applicant to turn this natural gas peaker plant into a 100% renewable project?
We all know that KingstonCitizens.org isn’t afraid of hard work and going the distance on any project that may impact the area and its citizens in a negative way. In this case – believe me when I say that if I am to roll up my sleeves to work with the public, I’d rather do so in by providing the support that our elected officials need to be a leader on renewable energy front in the Town of Ulster and Ulster County as a whole.