NY:New Power Plants Are Urged to Avert Shortage

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July 30, 2000

New Power Plants Are Urged to Avert an Energy Shortage By THOMAS J. LUECK arning of a looming electrical power shortage in New York City and the suburbs, a report to be issued today by Senator Charles E. Schumer recommends massive new investment in power plants, transmission lines and alternative energy sources.

The report, coming at time when unusually cool weather has dampened the traditional surge in the demand for power to run air conditioners, concludes that other factors have caused electrical use to keep climbing over a six-year period.

Using data from Consolidated Edison and Keyspan, the report says electrical use on a typical summer day has increased 20 percent in New York City and 23 percent on Long Island since 1995.

"We need to face the music," Mr. Schumer says. "If we ignore the looming, chronic energy shortage, we risk the economic well being of the entire region."

The report by Mr. Schumer, an outspoken advocate of deregulating the electric power industry who has won favor from national environmental groups by calling for cleaner power plants, recommends that new power plants be built in the New York region. It does not address the politically divisive question of where to build them, and Mr. Schumer could not be reached yesterday for further comment.

Some local officials, including City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, have repeatedly urged new power plant construction, as have utility executives. Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a frequent critic of both Consolidated Edison and Keyspan, has charged that the utilities fail to buy enough backup power from other producers, as is allowed under industry deregulation. But the mayor has not said whether he favors new power plant construction in the region.

Mr. Schumer's report recommends other new investments, by both the government and the utilities, in transmission lines that would better connect the New York utilities to sections of the country where electricity is more plentiful, in fuel cells and other alternative energy sources, and financial incentives for businesses and homeowners to reduce use.

The analysis by Mr. Schumer's staff, which incorporates data from the National Weather Service, concludes that residents and businesses have increased the use of electricity to run a range of appliances besides furnaces and air conditioners, meaning that spikes in demand are less closely associated with the weather than in the past.

It found, for example, that New York City residents used 11,231 megawatts of power on the day in June when the temperature reached 88 degrees and service was disrupted temporarily on the Upper East Side, prompting angry complaints from Mr. Giuliani and many residents. But city residents used less power -- 10,551 megawatts -- on a summer day in 1995 when the temperature soared to 95 degrees, the report says.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 30, 2000

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