Water Industry News
public-private waste-to-energy incinerator planned for Suffolk, LI
First new US energy
recovery incinerator in 10 years
BY JAMES T. MADORE
Newsday Staff Writer
April 13, 2006
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy yesterday unveiled a capital spending
budget for next year that calls for a private company to replace a dormant
incinerator for the Southwest Sewer District, and millions of dollars for
revamping the county jail and preserving open space.
Speaking to reporters, Levy touted the incinerator as an example of saving
tax dollars while improving services to residents. Suffolk would forego
$61.3 million by outsourcing the incinerator's construction and operation
at the Bergen Point sewage treatment plant in West Babylon.
Sewage sludge from Babylon and Islip now is sent to Georgia, Pennsylvania
and Ohio, costing $6 million a year. Under the new plan, the sludge would
be converted to ash for burial in area landfills. The process also would
generate electricity that could be used for plant operations.
Levy said he and budget officials embraced using a private company after
being surprised by cost estimates that grew by $14.4 million in one year.
"We have to come up with something innovative," he said.
Such private-public partnerships aren't commonplace in sewage disposal,
according to Ted Michaels, of the Integrated Waste Services Association, a
Washington, D.C., trade group. But county budget chief Fred Pollert said
there is a partnership in Rahway, N.J.
Savings from the incinerator project helped Levy's 2007 capital budget
come in $7.4 million lower than the $241.6-million budget that was adopted
by the county legislature for this year.
At $234 million, however, Levy's 2007 budget is higher than those he
proposed in the past two years, in part because of the cost of complying
with state mandates to fix the Yaphank jail. The Democrat said yesterday
the jail's projected bill had been reduced by $29.3 million to $223.6
million because of the refurbishment of existing housing units instead of
Levy's budget also includes $50 million over the next three years to
preserve open space, which grows to $100 million with matching funds from
Richard Amper, of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, said: "The
reason open space is good for taxpayers is because deer don't go to
school," he said, referring to school-district taxes.
Levy's capital spending plan received muted criticism from the
legislature's Republican minority. GOP leader Daniel Losquadro, while
praising the incinerator, said he would scrutinize other projects to
ensure those with the greatest public benefit are given priority.
During the past two years, when Republicans controlled the legislature, a
total of $38.4 million in spending was added to Levy's initial plans.
Presiding Officer William J. Lindsay labeled the incinerator "a very
interesting idea" but said it was too early to judge the 267-page
capital budget. The first public hearing is set for May 9 at 3 p.m. in the
legislature's Hauppauge auditorium.
Capital budget highlights
Arranging with a private company to build and operate a replacement
incinerator for the Southwest Sewer District, a move he says will save
Lowering the projected cost of replacing the Yaphank jail by refurbishing
existing housing units, adding a women's section, and opening a 20-bed
Establishing an Environmental Legacy Fund to spend $50 million over three
years for open-space and farmland preservation and to restore parks.
Tightening oversight of capital projects to combat cost overruns.
SOURCE: SUFFOLK COUNTY
EXECUTIVE STEVE LEVY