Caithness II, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant proposed for Yaphank is close to final approval.

Power To The Grid, Right On!

Caithness II, a proposed 600-megawatt power plant slated for construction in Yaphank, is on the road to final approval — and it will be available to bolster the East End supply of energy if necessary.

On July 14, Brookhaven Town Board members voted to lift restrictions imposed in 2015 that will allow the Manhattan-based company to continue its quest to build Caithness II, a gas-fired plant that would be built alongside an existing Caithness plant that opened in 2009.

Caithness II is yet another source of power that would be conveniently placed near the East End. The Town of Riverhead recently approved a third solar park to go with the two already in operation.

With South Fork Wind, a Deepwater Wind project, still facing a long environmental review for its East Hampton project, there is speculation another power source could slice the weak link in East Hampton’s power supply.

In fact, the Long Island Power Authority intends to run a cable from its Shinnecock substation to Wainscott that could easily solve East Hampton’s energy woes should Deepwater’s South Fork project be nixed. The cable could also be used to ship power west should the East End ocean bottom house additional wind farms down the road that produce an excess of power. Specifically, it could ship it to New York City, which will lose a valuable source of electricity when the Indian Point Nuclear plant closes in 2021.

“Caithness II was not developed in response to Indian Point closing, but our studies showed that Caithness II will provide additional benefits to the system with Indian Point shutting down” said Don Miller, a spokesman.

“Using the latest rapid-response technology, the plant will be able to start up and ramp down quickly to accommodate load changes from the addition of renewable sources. In other words, Caithness II will be available to provide power very quickly when renewables are not available — when the sun isn’t shining or the wind is not blowing,” added Miller.

LIPA does not run power plants and produce energy itself. “The New York Independent System Operator manages NY’s power grid and wholesale energy market and directs the flow of energy across the state’s high-voltage transmission system,” Miller said. “It assesses consumer demand for power and matches [it] with offers from energy producers that can reliably supply the demand.”

“We are pleased that the town board repealed the restrictive covenant related to the previously approved Caithness II power project,” Caithness Long Island president Ross Ain said in a statement. “We now look forward to consideration and approval of the site plan filed with the planning board for what will be the region’s cleanest, most fuel-efficient, and most water-conserving power plant.”

Caithness II still must obtain approvals from the town planning board and permits from state agencies before the new plant can be built.

Caithness officials have said the plant would supply electricity to power grids statewide and serve as a backup to existing and planned solar and wind farms. The facility also would help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save LIPA ratepayers about $75 million a year, company officials said.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com