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June 8, 2016

Closed Cycle Cooling at Athens Requires 1/1,000 of Water Required by Ravenswood to Generate Half the Power

The June 1, 2016 notice that the New Athens Generating Company has applied for a water withdrawal permit for its Athens Generation Station in Athens, New York provides a stunning illustration of the benefits of closed cycle cooling. The notice by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) states that the Athens Generating Station is applying to take "1.5 million gallons of water per day from the Hudson River for the facility's air-cooled condensers."

A comparison of the 1.5 million GPD permit amount requested by Athens with the over 1.5 billion GPD amount permitted to TransCanada's Ravenswood Generating Station in Queens, shows that New Athens is requesting 1/1,000 or 0.001% of the amount of water permitted to TransCanada. See DEC Gives Two Weeks to Comment on First Water Withdrawal Application for 1.5 Billion GPD. Yet the generating capacity of the Athens station is almost half that of Ravenswood. According to Wikipedia, the generating capacity of the Athens station is 1,138 MW and the generating capacity of Ravenswood station is 2,410 MW. This indicates that the Athens plant is 500 times as efficient in its use of cooling water as the Ravenswood plant. For a table of the water usage by New York's largest water users, see Will 12 NY Power Plants Get Permits this Year for 111% of NY's Total Fresh Water Usage?

In the case of both Athens and Ravenswood, the permitted amount is the plant's maximum withdrawal capacity and the plants generally use less water. According to DEC's website on Aquatic Habitat Protection and Cooling Water Impact Mitigation, the Athens station usually withdraws only 180,000 gallons of water per day. As the website states, "The withdrawal of this water results in very little impact on the aquatic organisms of the Hudson River."

The obvious question is why isn't DEC requiring all generating stations in New York to adopt similar cooling technologies?

Posted by Rachel Treichler on 06/08/16, updated 08/16/16.



Copyright 2016, Rachel Treichler



About NY Water Law

New York Water Law covers legal developments relating to water usage in New York and in jurisdictions that may be influential in New York. The author, Rachel Treichler, practices law in the Finger Lakes region.
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