NEW YORK, April 7 (Reuters) - New York State on Tuesday approved the second phase of the 1,240-megawatt Astoria natural gas-fired energy project in Queens, the New York State Public Service Commission said in a release.
The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment approved amendments to Astoria Energy LLC’s certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to commence construction.
The siting board first granted a certificate to Astoria Energy in November 2001 to build and operate a 1,000 MW natural gas fired power plant in Queens.
In March 2004, the siting board agreed to allow Astoria Energy to build the plant in two phases. The first phase went on line in May 2006.
In November 2008, Astoria Energy asked to amend the certificate to boost the capacity to 1,240 MW from 1,000 MW and transfer the license to Astoria Energy and Astoria Energy II jointly, among other things.
The siting board determined the proposed up-rate would not result in any material increase in environmental impact since the increased output comes from a higher steam turbine capacity and not any significantly higher amount of fuel combustion or air emissions.
In May 2008, Paris-based energy company GDF Suez SA GSZ.PA bought a 30.45 percent equity interest in Astoria Energy from SCS Energy. The companies did not disclose what GDF Suez paid for the stake.
The purchase was for SCS Energy’s entire share in the plant. SCS developed the project.
GDF Suez operates and manages the plant for its owners.
New York power company Consolidated Edison Inc (ED.N) buys 500 MW of energy and capacity from Astoria under a long-term power purchase agreement.
Astoria Energy has said it plans to build the second phase of the project on the site by the summer of 2011. The New York Power Authority has agreed to buy power from the second unit under a 20-year power purchase agreement.
All of the owners have the option to participate in the second unit. Suez has said in the past it plans to participate.
The other owners have included two Energy Investors Funds, Canadian investment fund Caisse de Depot et Place du Quebec (CDPQ), Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (SNC.TO) of Montreal, and New York real estate developer Morris Bailey. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino)