[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature 6-26-2001 by L.L. No. 11-2001 (Ch. 235 of the 1985 Code). Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that the growing economy and the use of new electrical devices by Suffolk County customers has dramatically driven up demand for electricity, potentially beyond the availability of our current power supply; that, without comparable increases in power generation to meet the demand or increased emphasis on energy conservation, the County will face brownouts and blackouts as well as price spikes; and that energy experts have recommended several measures to address the potential power crisis, including the construction of new generating plants.
This Legislature further finds and determines that these concerns are occurring while the utility industry is being deregulated, e.g., in April 1996, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered utilities that own, control or operate facilities used for transmitting electric power to let other companies buy and sell power over their distribution systems, and in May 1996, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an initial restructuring plan that permitted competition for the production and sale of electricity to begin in 1998, except in Suffolk County. As a result, the production and sale of electricity is beginning to open to competition so that customers can decide from which company they will purchase electricity.
This Legislature further determines that deregulation of the industry and the high market demand for electricity by County consumers has resulted in a surge of entities applying for permits to build new generating plants within the County or to expand the output of existing ones, the proposed construction of which raises environmental concerns.
This Legislature also determines that many of the applicants seeking to run the proposed plants will continue to operate older, less efficient, less environmentally sound plants in tandem with newer, more efficient, less polluting plants; that the cumulative impact of emissions from the clustering of plants is unknown; and that the amount of harmful emissions which new power plants will emit, in particular, the impact of emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2), responsible for such environmental hazards as global warming is of concern.
This Legislature finds that companies proposing the construction of new power plants or increased generation make numerous assurances that new technologies will be utilized for new power plants, which will not only increase overall efficiency but will also reduce harmful emissions, even though many of these companies intend to continue to utilize older, less efficient polluting facilities.
This Legislature also determines that the need for expanding energy sources requires the implementation of a strategy that takes into account the protection of the environment as well as energy needs.
This Legislature finds that over time, CO2 emission rates will decrease, as more efficient power plants are installed and older power plants incorporate more efficient processes for generating greater levels of electricity without increasing the use of fossil fuels, the end result of which will be a cleaner, healthier environment for the County's citizens, without a sacrifice in energy demands.
Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to encourage owners of existing power plants and steam-generating facilities, as well as newcomers to the Suffolk County electric- and steam-generating power industry, to maximize efficiency by incorporating technological advances in energy production that increase electricity generation but do not require an increase in fossil fuel consumption, and, thus, do not increase carbon dioxide emissions, through the establishment of a rate of allowable carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour, or equivalent megawatt-hour of generated electricity, for all power plants and steam-generating units located in the County to protect the health, safety and well-being of Suffolk County residents.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ELECTRIC-GENERATING UNIT
- Any fossil-fuel-fired combustion unit or a combination of units at a single facility located in the County of Suffolk with a single or aggregate nameplate capacity of more than 25 megawatts that serves as a generator which produces electricity for use or sale.
- STEAM-GENERATING UNIT
- Any fossil-fuel-fired combustion unit or a combination of units at a single facility located in the County of Suffolk that produces steam for sale.
The provisions of this section shall apply to every electric-generating unit and steam-generating unit located within the County of Suffolk.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the County Department of Health Services, Division of Environmental Quality (Division), shall develop standards for reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide by electric-generating units and steam-generating units in accordance with the provisions of this section. The Division shall promulgate rules, including, but not limited to, a quarterly reporting requirement, no later than October 1, 2001, in relation to reducing such emissions of carbon dioxide. The Division shall require all electric-generating units and steam-generating units to comply with an emission standard expressed in pounds of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt-hour of electricity generated as follows:
No later than March 1, 2002, the Division shall set an emissions rate for carbon dioxide emissions for all electric-generating units and steam-generating units at a level that is no greater than 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per gross megawatt-hour (MWh) or equivalent MWh of electricity generated. "Equivalent MWh" is defined as 100% of the gross electrical energy produced by a unit plus 1/2 the gross useful thermal output energy of the unit converted to MWh according to the following equation: total gross MWh + (0.5) * (gross thermal output mmBtu)/(3.413 mmBtu/MWh) = equivalent MWh. On March 1, 2002, and every March 1 thereafter, the allowable Countywide emissions rate for carbon dioxide shall be reduced by 1% for every 100 megawatts of electric-generating capacity installed within the County of Suffolk during the previous year until such time as the allowable emissions rate for carbon dioxide has been reduced by 20%. Any new capacity above the baseline emission rate shall be excluded for the purpose of setting a lower emission rate. However, all new electric-generating capacity shall be required to meet the lower emission rate. Generating facilities that could normally comply through a strategy of burning natural gas fuel shall not be subject to noncompliance enforcement for MWh's produced when they are compelled by established electric system reliability rules to burn fuel oil. Such enforcement relief shall not exceed 5% of the total gross MWh's generated by the facilities located in Suffolk County.
The Division shall establish a carbon dioxide emissions credit trading mechanism to be approved by the Suffolk County Legislature and allow the operators of all electric-generating units and steam-generating units subject to this chapter to achieve compliance through the purchase of carbon dioxide emission credits through established national carbon dioxide trading markets or by acquiring the equivalent value of such carbon dioxide credits by investments it, or the electric distribution company to which it sells energy, makes in energy conservation, energy efficiency or research and development of alternative energy sources, including, but not limited to, solar, wind, fuel cells and other strategies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, after approval by the Suffolk County Legislature via duly enacted resolution of the County of Suffolk, the Division may allow the operators of electric-generating units and steam-generating units (or the electric distribution company to which it sells energy) subject to this section to achieve compliance through donation of penalties to community environmental organizations for implementation of strategies that reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Suffolk County. Credit shall be allowed for equivalent energy reductions made through investments since 2000.
The emission standards for carbon dioxide required by this section shall not be construed to supersede more stringent emission standards, limitations and/or practices that are applicable to electric-generating units on the effective date of this chapter or which may become applicable after such effective date.
Operators of electric-generating units or steam-generating units who fail to meet the obligations and requirements of § 357-3 of this chapter shall be subject to civil fines after a due process hearing conducted in accordance with §§ 760-202 through 760-223 of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code as follows:
An amount equal to $2 for each ton of carbon dioxide emissions in the first year above the requirements set forth in this chapter.
An additional $1 for each ton of carbon dioxide emissions above the requirements set forth in this chapter shall be imposed for each consecutive year thereafter that the electric-generating unit or steam-generating unit fails to meet its obligations pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.
Such amounts shall be collected by the appropriate agency designated by the Division.
The Division shall submit an annual report (March 31 of each year) to the County Executive, the County Legislature and the County Comptroller regarding the amount of fines collected pursuant to this section.
This chapter shall apply to actions occurring on or after the effective date in accordance with the phased-in schedule set forth in § 357-3 of this chapter.
This chapter shall be null and void on the day that statewide or federal legislation goes into effect, incorporating national or statewide carbon dioxide mitigation goals for generating facilities, or in the event that a pertinent state or federal administrative agency issues and promulgates regulations preempting such action by the County of Suffolk. The County Legislature may determine via mere resolution whether or not federal or statewide legislation or rules or regulations have been enacted for the purposes of triggering the provisions of this section.