The people fighting the Competitive Power Ventures power plant in Wawayanda already have a long to-do list.
In addition to keeping up pressure on local, state and federal officials to rescind the permits for the operation, they have to monitor the pollutants coming from the plant, something that is just getting started because operations so far have been done only in a testing phase. Nobody knows what chemicals will be going into the air, how far they will spread and whom they will affect until operations get underway.
Also important but looking more toward the future is the notion that when such a project is entangled in typical New York corruption, as this one was, it should not be allowed to go forward. That effort is unlikely to have an effect on this plant because it is almost impossible to write laws that have retroactive effects. But for the good of other communities and for the good of a state with far too much corruption that pays off, such an effort is worthwhile.
But there is another item that needs to be checked off, one that eventually might pay off in more than one way. That is the need to support a rapid and massive increase in efforts to develop and fund alternative energy sources.
While that is a valuable goal all by itself, it relates directly to the CPV plant because it was built in part to help provide power that the state will need once the Indian Point nuclear plants close.
Produce enough power from hydro and solar and wind and the need for the CPV plant and others like it is diminished, perhaps eliminated. The state is committed to replacing that lost nuclear power and whatever arguments local people can make about corruption and pollution, those in Albany who make all the crucial decisions are not likely to act unless there are adequate alternatives available.
And there are, or there could be. The governor has committed the state to having renewable sources of energy supply 50 percent of the state’s needs by 2030. For a while, that put him in the forefront of the effort to support renewables. But now he has a savvy opponent challenging him to live up to the progressive ideals that he likes to highlight and he needs to respond.
This week, challenger Cynthia Nixon said the state should do more, should make a commitment that by 2050 the state should be getting 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. And that is something that local opponents of the CPV plant should welcome.
A gas-fueled plant like the one in Wawayanda plays no part in reaching that renewable goal. If anything, it will get in the way.
Imagine if the governor really wanted to call his opponent’s bluff. He could come to Wawayanda and instead of cutting a ribbon, he could cut a symbolic power line, announcing that because we need to immediately invest in solar, wind and hydro, we can no longer bother with plants that rely on natural gas.
Check that off the to-do list and most of the other items disappear.