Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Power Authority chief predicts state energy crisis

Kessel pushes plans for solar, wind alternatives

As Richard Kessel, CEO and president of the New York Power Authority, started his lecture Tuesday morning at the Cornell University Africana Center, he reminisced about his college days spent hitchhiking from Colgate University to Cornell, often for music events such as a well-remembered Temptations concert.
But as he continued, he offered a daunting hypothesis: There will be an energy crisis in New York State in a couple of years.
"The one thing you can't do with energy is sit on your butt," Kessel said. "I'm telling you, I think we are going to have some serious problems in the country and this region probably in 2012 or 2013. We have to get ahead of it as fast as we can."
When the economy recovers, Kessel said, growth in electricity will be significant. He does not think this region, or country, is prepared to deal with such a surge.
As a result, Kessel highlighted a few projects the Power Authority has started. The projects have four main priorities: Producing power, sparking economic development, utilizing renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"There is a need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and clean up the environment," Kessel said.
To do so, Kessel discussed a 100-megawatt solar statewide project. The Power Authority asked for bids from companies to do solar installations, primarily on public facilities throughout New York. He hopes to see the projects take shape next year.
"It is not only good for the environment and sustainability, but it creates jobs," Kessel said.
Another project Kessel discussed is an off-shore wind project in the Great Lakes on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario or both. The project will build 120 to 500 megawatts of generation and the Power Authority will select a developer or developers by early next year.
Kessel also highlighted some projects he hopes the Power Authority gets done. He wants to build a transmission line from Canada to New York City and Long Island. It would have the ability to import 2,000 megawatts of wind and hydro power into the state.
In addition to the Great Lakes wind efforts, Kessel hopes for a similar project in the Atlantic Ocean. While most of the opposition is because of the aesthetics, with an energy crisis looming there is a need to act fast, Kessel said.
"You can't wait. You have to do it now," Kessel said, "and hopefully, we are very close to doing that."

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