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NYSEG considers compressed air plant in Watkins

WATKINS GLEN—New York State Electric and Gas is currently considering a plan on whether to build a compressed air energy storage (CAES) power plant in Watkins Glen.
According to the project overview, NYSEG wants to build a 150-megawatt plant adjacent to the Seneca Lake Gas Storage facility on Route 14.  The plant would store compressed air in an empty salt cavern.  When released, the energy would turn a turbine and create energy.
The project got a $29.6 million Small Grid Development Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in February 2010. As a result, NYSEG launched a comprehensive feasibility study of a CAES facility last November.  NYSEG said the study, phase one of the project, would take about 12 months to complete.  It expects to specifically finish evaluating the salt cavern in June 2011.
To do the study, NYSEG re-opened a solution-mined salt cavern owned by nearby U.S. Salt and Inergy Midstream, LLC.  NYSEG said it would finalize the engineering design and draft permit applications as well.  If NYSEG proceeds with the project, phase 2 is construction of the plant.  The projected in-service date would be late 2014.  NYSEG said phase three would be commercial demonstration, testing, and performance reporting.
According to the energy company, Watkins is a good location because of the salt caverns, the proximity to the transmission lines, and the possibility of expanding plant capacity.  NYSEG also said the plant could create power when energy demand is not high and release it when demand peaks.  The company added the project promotes New York’s “45 by 15” clean energy goal; the state meets 30 percent of its forecasted energy needs through renewable energy and 15 percent through increased efficiency by 2015.
Kelsey Jones, executive director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, said it certainly sounds like clean energy, especially when we are in an era wondering about what to do for energy.  He added he knew about the plan, but that SCOPED has not yet been approached by anyone from the project.





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