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
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
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
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
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.
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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