Industrial uses pitched for power plant site

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO Shoreham Advisory Committee members heard ideas for the defunct Shoreham Power Plant, which includes a wind blade testing facility.

A wind turbine testing facility. A turbine testing and manufacturing plant. Even a testing, manufacturing and research development park, a sort of one-stop shop for the wind turbine industry.

Those three potential scenarios for the defunct Shoreham power plant property were kicked around at LIPA’s Shoreham Advisory Committee meeting last Friday. Long Island Power Authority planning consultants presented the ideas for feedback from committee members.

But only the first scenario, a wind turbine testing facility, received much support of the civic and elected leaders who attended the event. That’s because the other two, larger proposals would involve cutting into the woods surrounding the plant, 800 undeveloped acres owned by LIPA’s operating partner, National Grid.

Shoreham Civic Organization president Richard Belsky said he wanted discussions restricted to the already developed LIPA-owned property in order to preserve the wooded land.

“Once you start looking at that 800 acres you’re going to get a lot of resistance,” Mr. Belsky said. “There’s more value leaving it as open space than developing it.”

Most members of the committee, which consists of government officials, environmentalists, civic leaders and community members, said they would rather see LIPA’s 61-acre property redeveloped as opposed to building facilities on National Grid land.

Planner Ken Schwartz said his firm considered economic feasibility first when crafting ideas for the plant property.

Some sort of wind turbine facility turned out to be the most favorable use because of the property’s access to the Long Island Sound, Mr. Schwartz explained. Shipping nearly 295-foot long blades would be less problematic with boats rather than trucks because of the blade’s size, he said.

A testing facility, which would be the second of its kind nationwide and the first to accommodate newer and larger blades, would employ about 15 to 20 people, Mr. Schwartz told committee members.

“This is an emerging market as wind technology continues to grow,” Mr. Schwartz said. “There’s going to be more of a need for these testing facilities throughout the United States.”

He also presented different location options for the wind blade testing facility. If it were built on LIPA property, some buildings would need to be demolished; if it were built on the National Grid property, the land would have to be rezoned, Mr. Schwartz said.

Based on initial feedback during last week’s committee meeting, however, Michael Deering, vice president of environmental affairs for LIPA, told a reporter that while the presentation included National Grid property ideas, there would not likely be any further evaluation of those ideas moving forward.

“At the request of committee members, we looked at property beyond our borders,” he said. “However, we are going to strictly focus on the development of the LIPA property and not to expand into the National Grid property.”

But that would mean losing potential jobs that could come to the area.

A wind tower assembly and manufacturing plant build on the National Grid property could potentially employ about 150 people, Mr. Schwartz said.

The third option would include a four-building industrial park where each lot would range in size from 25 to 75 acres, all on LIPA’s property. The wind blade testing facility and turbine manufacturing plant would then be built on the adjacant National Grid land. That option would bring the most jobs to the area, though consultants did not offer any specific estimates.

County Legislator Ed Romaine said he’d prefer to continue discussions about redeveloping the LIPA property, which is publicly owned, as opposed to the privately-owned National Grid property.

“I’m interested in keeping whatever our decisions are at this moment in time limited to the 61-acres,” Mr. Romaine said. “It might tee-up nicely for National Grid, but that is a totally different issue.”

A National Grid spokeswoman did not comment on the presentation.

Mr. Deering said the next step will strictly focus on a wind testing facility on LIPA property.

“We want to do something that advances renewable energy, that is economically viable, environmentally sound and meets community needs,” he said.

Sid Bail, first-vice president for the Wading River Civic Association, said out of all the alternative land-use ideas presented, he prefers a wind blade testing facility on the former power plant, which closed in 1989 before it ever became fully operational.

However, Mr. Bail said he’s concerned about the potential negative impact to local residents, such as increased traffic and noise generated from the site.

“I think it could be a good project,” he said. “I would like Shoreham to be remembered for something other than the failed nuclear plant.”

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