TransGas Brooklyn power plant hits hurdle

Electric power plant proposed for site where City seeks to build 28-acre park as part of its Greenpoint- Williamsburg rezoning. On April 12, 2006, the Public Service Commission recommended denial of the second application of TransGas Energy Systems, LLC to construct an eight-acre electric power plant at 1 North 12th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on a site that the City plans to condemn for a new 28-acre waterfront park.

After it spent $1.5 million on the option to purchase the site and $10 million in development costs, TransGas filed its first application with the Siting Board in December 2002 to obtain approval of its proposed power plant. After extensive hearings at which the City argued that the plant would curb residential development and interfere with its massive rezoning plan for Greenpoint and Williamsburg, the Siting Board rejected TransGas’ application in April 2004, more than a year before the City rezoned the area in May 2005. The Board’s examiners found that the plant’s visual impact and its effect on adjacent uses could not be mitigated and added that the City’s pending rezoning significantly weighed into its rejection.

TransGas amended its application, proposing to move the plant underground so that four to seven acres above the plant could then be used as parkland. The new design would include six to eight surface structures throughout the site that would stand up to 15 feet tall. Security needs would require TransGas to guard the entire eight acres.

The City and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz opposed the plan, questioning, among other things, the feasibility of using the site for parkland due to the need for high security, the obstructing surface structures, and the call for only a few feet of soil between the power plant and the park.

The Public Service Commission recommended dismissal of TransGas’ second application, explaining that it did not deviate enough from the first to merit a second look. The Commission also rejected the plan since it would require consents from the City for use of the City’s water or the City’s property to build steam and water pipes. The Commission found that denying the consents would not usurp the Siting Board’s authority. The Board must now review the Commission’s recommendation.

Condemnation actions by both the City and a corporation related to TransGas are pending. In the City’s action to take the property for parkland, Judge Abraham Gerges ruled that the City’s condemnation circumvented the Siting Board’s exclusive authority to determine the location of major electric plants. Gerges stayed the matter until the Siting Board rules.

The Public Service Commission’s full recommendation is available at: http: // NYS Bd. of Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, PSC Recommendation Concerning Further Proceedings, Case No. 01-F-1276 (April 12, 2006); In the Matter of Bushwick Inlet Phase 1, 2005 NY Slip Op 52047U, Dec. 14, 2005 (Kings Cty.Sup.Ct.) (Gerges, J.).


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