Mark Boshnack | Daily Star
A plan to build a 14-megawatt hydroelectric facility at the Cannonsville Reservoir was announced Tuesday in a media release from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently gave the agency a license to build the facility in the town of Deposit, which is estimated at a cost $72 million. Work could start as early as 2016 and could mean about 60 construction jobs and five jobs for those who will operate the plant, according to DEP spokesman Adam Bosch.
The DEP said the project’s four hydroelectric turbines could generate 42,281 megawatt hours of electricity, enough to power 6,000 homes. Using water released daily from the reservoir into the West Branch of the Delaware River, it will prevent the emission of 25,620 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year — the equivalent of removing 5,400 automobiles from the road, the release said.
The plant could generate about $2 million in revenue each year, the release said, depending on demand and the market price of electricity. When completed, it could mean about $1 million in county, town and school taxes, Bosch said.
Delaware County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Eisel said the facility will be “positive for the future,” and that generating electricity from renewable sources is “a good deal for everyone.” He added that the project will create several long-term jobs and could help ease electricity costs.
Deposit Supervisor Thomas Axtell said the project will be good news to the extent it delivers on a couple of factors, such as generating local tax revenue. “It will be great for short-term employment,” if local labor is used, he said. He declined to comment further until he has more information about the details.
Bosch, the DEP spokesman, said the project will be moving to the design phase, and then bids will be sought for the work. He said it was too early in the process to speculate about the completion date or give estimates about how much local labor would be used. Recent area projects have included union agreements that allowed for the much of the work to be done by local labor, Bosch said.
The water for the power generation is released according to the Flexible Flow Management Program, which has been implemented according to a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decree outlining the rights and obligations related to water use in the Delaware River Basin. The amount is based on season, storage and other factors. The DEP currently owns two other hydroelectric facilities, both located in tunnels in the town of Neversink in Sullivan County.
Bosch said the Cannonsville site was chosen because it made financial sense; more water is released from it than other reservoirs in the area. The DEP is looking at other sites and it has not ruled out generating power at the Pepacton Reservoir, also in Delaware County.
The proposed power generation “will utilize the natural power of New York City’s water supply system, which conveys billions of gallons of water every year by the force of gravity alone,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “By capturing more of that energy, New York City can generate clean and reliable electricity, improve air quality, and fight climate change by avoiding the emission of greenhouse gases.”
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