Glenville power plant is getting help from GE
Schenectady Daily Gazette
September 25, 2002
Firm paying some development costs for proposed energy project
"In today's environment, it's only natural we'd be looking to produce this project."
GE Power Systems On GE backing of energy plant
By MICHAEL DeMASI
SCHENECTADY - The General Electric Co. has been paying legal, engineering and other consulting fees for the past three years to develop a controversial natural gas-fired power plant in the Scotia-Glenville Industrial Park, a company official confirmed Tuesday.
GE Power Systems signed a joint development agreement in August 1999 with Glenville Energy Park LLC to pay "third-party development costs" in exchange for an exclusive opportunity to supply the turbine generator equipment and related services.
Jan Smith, a GE spokeswoman, wouldn't divulge the amount that has been invested so far, but said the sale of two gas turbine generators, one steam turbine generator and other equipment would be worth about $95 million.
Such agreements are common in the energy industry, Smith said. If the project gets built, GE is reimbursed the development costs. If it fails to get the necessary state permits, GE absorbs the expense.
While GE Power System's interest in the Glenville power plant isn't new - the company released a statement in January 2000 saying it supported the efforts of the developers, Thomas Macaulay and Robert Votaw - the extent of the company's involvement has not been publicly known.
The information was revealed in a recent legal filing to the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, which oversees the permitting process.
A grass-roots group opposed to the plant, Citizens Advocating Responsible Development, asked Glenville Energy Park to divulge any parties that have a financial interest in the development team.
Neil Turner, president of CARD, said he and others had asked the developers in the past to identify the financial backers, but never got an answer.
"I guess the fact that GE has been so involved, I feel a little uneasy this has not been well publicized," Turner said. "If they're fronting the money, why is it such a secret? Nobody would talk about this until they were legally forced to do it."
Macaulay couldn't be reached for comment. Jon Pierce, a spokesman for Glenville Energy Park, said he couldn't discuss General Electric's involvement nor the amount spent to date.
Glenville Energy Park is negotiating with Houston-based Duke Energy North America to sell its ownership interest in the plant.
Based on the studies and other work done so far, Turner guessed GE has spent "a few million." Smith, the company spokeswoman, said that information was proprietary and would not be released.
Given the recent worldwide slowdown in the power generation market - a decline that prompted GE in July to announce 1,000 white-collar and blue-collar jobs would be cut in Schenectady - Smith said the company wants to see the Glenville plant built.
"In today's environment, it's only natural we'd be looking to produce this project," she said.
The steam turbines and generators would be built locally, but the gas turbines would be manufactured at a Power Systems plant in Greenville, S.C.
Turner and other power plant opponents say they don't begrudge GE getting contracts to build generators and keeping local residents employed, but they strenuously object to locating the plant near homes and schools.
"After 33 years with GE, I'm not anti-GE, that's for sure," said Turner, who worked as an electrical engineer and in corporate research before retiring.
Meanwhile, Turner and other plant opponents continue to pressure the Schenectady City Council to pass a resolution opposing the sale of water to cool the power plant.
The council has adopted a resolution opposing the plant, but hasn't ruled out selling water if the facility gets built.
Councilmen Michael Petta, Joseph Allen and Ed Kosiur said at a meeting Monday night they oppose selling water to the developers, but it's unclear whether the council will schedule a vote on that resolution.
"I think we should come out as a council and let everybody know we're against it," Allen said.