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Giuliani says county job growth hangs on enough energy supply

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani greets his fans before speaking at an energy forum held by the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at an energy symposium in Astoria Friday to discuss which area will power New York City in the future, and some panelists said it should not be Queens.

Giuliani painted an ominous portrait of the city’s energy use, drawing on his tenure as mayor.

“We are operating in a dangerous situation,” Giuliani said. “We’re pushing it. We’re at the brink.”

He warned that the region needed to expand its energy production or New York may not have enough power to supply the entire city in the next 15 years.

And that would be bad for business.

Without a comprehensive plan to ensure businesses that their energy needs will be met, the city will have trouble growing its economy, he said.

“I see Queens as very important for job growth,” Giuliani said after the talk.

If businesses are not convinced they will have adequate energy, they will simply go somewhere else, he said, repeatedly citing the amount of nuclear power plants that China and India are building.

First and foremost, Giuliani called on New York to keep the nearby Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant open in Westchester County, since its license is up for renewal.

Second, he discussed the possibility of adding more power plants to the city’s network.

Jerry Kremer, of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, agreed that New York City needed a plan for more energy, but he said one borough has already done its part.

“How many more power plants do we need in Queens to satisfy the needs of the area?” he said. “I think Queens is entitled to a reprieve from any new facilities. It has done its share.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) also said his district has disproportionately borne the brunt of providing the city with energy.

Just in Astoria, there are six power plants, he said.

Many of them are aging fossil fuel plants that belch pollution into the air and threaten the health of his constituents.

But Gianaris welcomed construction at one plant in the area.

NRG is a company that specializes in repowering outdated power plants and bought an aging facility from Con Edison, which it will convert to a plant that uses natural gas to generate electricity.

“We view it all as an upside,” Gianaris said, citing the fact that the repowering will increase the amount of electricity flowing to the city, while reducing emissions.

The discussion was called “A Cleaner, Greener, More Sustainable Queens,” but little of the talk, which focused on nuclear energy and conservation, was about sustainable energy sources.

Giuliani dismissed wind and solar power as a good cause, but still too expensive to provide a significant portion of the city’s energy needs.

One man stood up and told the former mayor that solar panels on the roofs of Queens houses could provide 50 percent of the borough’s heating needs.

“I don’t know what you’re smoking,” Giuliani told the man. “But you’re smoking something, baby.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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