Danskammer Generating Station

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Danskammer Generating Station
Danskammer Generating Station.JPG
A view of the Danskammer Generating Station in Newburgh, NY as seen from a train travelling on the other side of the Hudson River.
Danskammer Generating Station is located in New York
Danskammer Generating Station
Location of Danskammer Generating Station in New York
Country United States
Location Newburgh, NY
Coordinates 41°34′22″N 73°57′53″W / 41.57278°N 73.96472°W / 41.57278; -73.96472Coordinates: 41°34′22″N 73°57′53″W / 41.57278°N 73.96472°W / 41.57278; -73.96472
Status Operational
Commission date Unit 1 (RFO/gas): Dec. 1951
Unit 2 (RFO/gas): Sep. 1954
Unit 3 (coal/gas): Oct. 1959
Unit 4 (coal/gas): Sep. 1967
Units 5,6 (DFO): Jan. 1967 (decommissioned)
Owner(s) Helios Power Capital LLC
Thermal power station
Primary fuel natural gas
Cooling source Hudson River
Power generation
Nameplate capacity 537 MWe (nameplate)
502 MWe (winter)

Danskammer Generating Station is located on the shore of the Hudson River in the Town of Newburgh, New York, United States, 0.5 miles (0.8 km) upstream of the larger oil-fired Roseton Generating Station. Danskammer units 1 and 2 burn natural gas as a primary fuel, and oil as a backup fuel (72 and 73.5 MWe nameplate capacity), whereas units 3 and 4 are exclusively fired with natural gas (147.1 and 239.4 MWe nameplate capacity).[1] The station was built by Central Hudson Gas & Electric in the 1930s, and sold to Dynegy in the 1990s as part of electricity deregulation. Dynegy sold the plant to Helios Power Capital, LLC in 2013. The plant has been the target of a prolonged environmental lawsuit over its cooling system.


The name Danskammer is Dutch for "Dance chamber". On their voyage upriver in 1609 Henry Hudson's crew supposedly saw Native Americans dancing around a fire at the site and thought they were looking at "the Devil's dance chamber". There was once a lighthouse, Danskammer Point Light, at the site.[2]

The Danskammer station was built by Central Hudson Gas & Electric in the 1930s.

Sale to Dynegy[edit]

In 2001 Central Hudson sold both Roseton and Danskammer to Dynegy, under new rules deregulating electricity, in order to become just a distributor of power.[3] Dynegy later added a facility that allowed the plant, which had previously received coal only by rail, to receive coal from self-unloading ships.[4]

Environmental concerns[edit]

Shortly after the Dynegy acquisition, environmental activists began to raise concerns about the plant's emissions. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figures, it was among the top ten releasers of pollutants by weight in New York, releasing 1.4 million pounds (560,000 kg) of hazardous emissions in 2000.[5] Dynegy defended its operation of the plant as entirely within its permits.[5]

The environmental group Riverkeeper took note of the long-overdue renewal of the plant's discharge permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In common with Roseton and Indian Point Energy Center, its use of once-through cooling, in which river water was pumped in, used to cool the plant, then pumped out warm, dated to the 1950s and was responsible for large fish kills in the river. A state judge had voided the permit,[6] but it was reversed on appeal.[7] After DEC rebuffed Riverkeeper's effort to force it to accelerate the process,[8] and ruled that closed-cycle cooling, the environmental group's preferred alternative, was not feasible at Danskammer, Riverkeeper filed suit against DEC and Dynegy alleging violations of state administrative-procedure law in issuing the new permit.[9] They alleged that DEC had accepted Dynegy's argument that it didn't have space to install closed-cycle cooling despite the company owning large tracts of adjacent vacant land, and that it had allowed Dynegy to account for its water withdrawals in an unrealistic fashion.[10] Dynegy says there are cheaper alternatives to the cooling towers a closed-cycle system would require.[11] Danskammer is a Rankine cycle fossil fuel plant. The plant efficiency is 41 percent, comapred to Indian Point's efficiency of 30 percent. The cooling water requirements for this much more efficient fossil fuel plant are significantly less than that of Indian Point's "Clean Nuclear Power Plant."

During the late 2000s, Dynegy filed a suit of its own. It alleged that the plants had been overvalued and thus that it had paid more in taxes to Orange County, the Town of Newburgh and the Marlboro school district than it should have. The exact reasons for the alleged overvaluation remained confidential as a result of a judge's gag order in the case in order to protect Dynegy's proprietary information regarding the plant. It was later settled, resulting in an increase in local property taxes, particularly in the school district.[12]

Dynegy bankruptcy, storm damage and plant sale[edit]

Dynegy filed for bankruptcy in 2011. In 2012 the Danskammer plant incurred extensive storm damage from Hurricane Sandy and was shut down.[13] Pursuant to the bankruptcy declaration, Dynegy sold the Danskammer plant to Helios Power Capital, LLC in 2013.[14]

New operating permits and plant restart[edit]

Following the 2013 acquisition, Helios Power Capital had planned to dismantle the Danskammer plant. However, the New York Public Service Commission was interested in stabilizing electric power prices in the Hudson River valley region, and created a new electricity regulatory zone to facilitate such stability. Helios then proposed to renovate and reopen the plant. After extensive consultations and negotiations on environmental permit requirements, DEC and EPA allowed Danskammer to reopen, using only natural gas as the primary fuel. Units 1 and 2 may use oil as a backup fuel. Units 1 through 4 were restarted in 2014.[15]


  1. ^ "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2008" (Excel). Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy. 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  2. ^ Mumford, Warren (May 17, 2007). "History: Danskammer Point Light". Village of Cornwall on Hudson. Retrieved November 21, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Central Hudson Closes Sale on Roseton and Danskammer Generating Plants; Divestiture Means Immediate Changes in Customer Bills" (Press release). Business Wire. January 30, 2001. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  4. ^ McCartney, Richard (October 15, 2006). "Designing and upgrading plants to blend coal". Tradefair Group. Retrieved November 21, 2009. Danskammer Generating Station. This plant in Roseton, N.Y., used to receive all of its coal by unit trains. A self-unloading coal-receiving system capable of handling ships as heavy as 30,000 dwt (deadweight tons) was added to enable deliveries of coal from the Hudson River [permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b Hall, Wayne (July 11, 2002). "Newburgh plant one of N.Y.'s top 10 polluters". Ottaway Community Newspapers. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Danskammer permit voided". Associated Press. October 1, 2004. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Environmentalists fail in suit vs. Danskammer". Times-Herald Record. Ottaway Community Newspapers. April 21, 2006. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  8. ^ Crotty, Erin (October 1, 2002). "Danskammer Electric Generating Plant - Commissioner's Ruling, October 1, 2002". New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  9. ^ Bruno, Greg (July 27, 2006). "Suit questions Danskammer's cooling system". Times-Herald Record. Ottaway Community Newspapers. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  10. ^ Reiss, Warren (November 11, 2007). "Cool it on the Hudson". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  11. ^ Bruno, Greg (August 3, 2006). "Dynegy power plant vs. Hudson River life". Times-Herald Record. Ottaway Community Newspapers. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  12. ^ Ross, Carrie (November 13, 2008). "Hitting the ceiling". Woodstock Times. Ulster Publishing. Retrieved November 21, 2009. The question: What could be done about the steep increase in school taxes in the aftermath of the $40 million Dynegy settlement and a $20 million dollar high school building bond, causing school taxes to skyrocket more than 40 percent for many this year. [permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Schutzman, Nina (2014-11-23). "Danskammer set to return to financially-strapped school district". Poughkeepsie Journal. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  14. ^ Bishop, Stewart (2013-08-30). "Dynegy Bankruptcy Judge OKs $3.5M Plant Sale To Helios". Law360. Portfolio Media. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  15. ^ Murtha, David T. (2015-02-11). "Permitting Considerations for Facility Reactivation: "Zombie" Power Plants". http://www.gflawma.com/files/100939197.pdf.  External link in |website= (help); . Presentation at the 18th Annual Joint Seminar of the Air and Waste Management Association and New York Water Environment Association, Pittsford, NY.