Newsday: Covanta ends renewable-energy funds quest

(December 9, 2011)

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December 8, 2011 by ELLEN YAN

Covanta Energy, which operates four "waste-to-energy" incinerators on Long Island, Thursday withdrew its petition asking state regulators to qualify such plants for renewable energy subsidies.

The New Jersey-based company notified the state Public Service Commission on the same day that the Alliance for Clean Energy New York filed another protest, saying the state's goal to boost clean energy "cannot be decimated by the diversion of funds to polluting resources such as incineration."

Covanta officials could not be reached immediately last night.

The petition had asked the PSC to make energy-creating incinerators eligible for funds under the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Its withdrawal was hailed as a victory by environmental and other advocacy groups, from the Consumers Union to the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

"We're hopeful that this is the last attempt we'll see by a company trying to masquerade garbage incineration as clean energy," said Michael Seilback, vice president of public policy and communications at the American Lung Association in New York. "Clean energy funding must be reserved to promote energy projects that are truly clean and that will enhance the environment and help improve the air we breathe."The subsidy was created in 2004 to promote low-emission sources of clean energy, such as wind and solar power. Consumers pay for the fund through a surcharge on monthly utility bills. Long Island Power Authority customers pay a separate fee to fund local initiatives.