Multiple members of the Town of Lansing Board of Trustees, in addition to a local resident, shared their opinions regarding the Cayuga Power Plant’s decision to convert one of its two on-site power turbines from coal to natural gas at a meeting on April 17.
Lansing resident Diane Beckwith spoke in front of the board during the public comment portion of the meeting, stating her disagreement with the power plant’s decision. She said the conversion to natural gas would increase traffic in the area.
“If the plant converts to natural gas, we’ve heard there’s an average of 30 trucks a day possibly coming through Lansing,” Beckwith said. “The press release from the company says it could be 25 to 60 trucks a day, which means it could be 60 trucks a day, or a 120 truck trips, most of which would be going right through Lansing and past the schools.”
Beckwith said residents should be in favor of converting the plant to solar energy instead of natural gas.
“We should be supporting that in every way possible,” she said. “That would generate growth in Lansing and increase tax revenue without the risks of increase in traffic, trucks carrying toxic gas and further pollution of our environment.”
“I’m asking this board to reconsider the impact of this conversion on our community and act in the best interest of our health, safety and future, and I’m requesting that the Lansing Town Board notify Governor Cuomo of our opposition to this application outright, clearly telling him and the [Department of Environmental Conservation] that Lansing does not want or need the Cayuga Power Plant to repower with natural gas now or anytime in the future.” She also offered to work with the Town Board in developing possible solutions to this predicament.
Members of the board responded to Beckwith and shared their perspectives on the issue later in the meeting. Councilman Joseph Wetmore said the board should consider having a discussion regarding the potential risks of the plant’s conversion to natural gas.
“I think we really ought to start a discussion as to whether or not the town…say that they have concern of this truck traffic,” Wetmore said.
Councilwoman Andra Benson said she agreed with Wetmore that the truck traffic issue is something the board needs to sit down and talk about.
Town Supervisor Edward LaVigne thanked Beckwith for offering to work with the board, saying he along with the rest would certainly be interested in working together to convince the plant to convert to solar energy.
“If we’re so green, what’s holding this up,” LaVigne said. “This is a perfect idea to go from a coal fired plant to solar.”
LaVigne said to Beckworth and he would certainly be willing to work with her to find a way to implement solar energy in Lansing.
“We all have noble ideas, but we’re limited by interstate laws, we’re limited by other laws,” he said. “You can condemn; you can do whatever you want. But to me I’d rather prevent, rather than create, and create an environment of prosperity … whatever you need to get this thing fired up with solar. If you want to meet with Jerry [Goodenough] … I’ll meet with you and prepare a plan with him. Whoever wants to come and do it in a positive way of working together as a community to transfer over from coal to renewable energy.”
“I think most of us agree with Ed,” Benson said. “We would love to see a solar farm there, and I don’t know why there’s not [anyone] pushing it at all.”
Aside from the environmental benefits, Lavigne said establishing a solar plant would benefit the community economically as well.
“There is also a value from that, which means you would have a pilot program, which means you would have more money coming into the ‘X’ community as well,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be nice for once that we benefited from this, as opposed to [taking] everything on the chin? So these are all pluses that I look forward to—creating an environment of cooperation and positive results.”