Friday, April 4, 2008

Cordaro: Broadwater opponents "emotional & hysterical"

Former LILCO engineering veep Matthew Cordaro didn't like it when I challenged him to prove that the Northeast needs not only the Broadwater Liquid Natural Gas project proposed for Long Island Sound but also 2 others that could be put in the Atlantic Ocean south of Long Island.

These days, Cordaro inhabits the world of academia as the head of Long Island University's Center for Management Analysis, and Newsday and other news media quote him as an objective expert on Broadwater.

When I told him that his projections for strong demand growth are contradicted by relatively low estimates made by federal agencies, NY State and Keyspan, he complained that I was debating him. But he finally explained his demand prediction of strong demand this way: "It's just knowing. My information goes beyond what's being projected." The Northport and Port Jeff electric plants would need lots more gas to switch from oil, he said, a desirable change because it is less polluting. I said a spokesperson for Keyspan had just told me they were already using gas at these plants because it's currently cheaper than oil, so where's the need for dramatically more supply? (They are capable of using either fuel, and make the decision based on price.)

He then talked about the fact that 2/3 of the homes on LI (and much of the Northeast) are heated by oil, and that when we all switch, we'll need lots more natural gas. I reminded him that this would require homeowners to invest in expensive new heating equipment, not something most folks will do unless it's cost-justified. Well, he said, he is talking about a long-term change. Indeed.

I asked him what he thought about U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop's idea that a national commission should decide which of the 40 new LNG terminals proposed nationwide should be built, rather than letting the "market" decide. Not necessary, he said, because private companies "wouldn't build these facilities if they weren't sure they needed them," and, anyway, "if they want to overbuild it's to the advantage of the consumer." But what of the downside, to the enviornment of the Sound, to the fishing industry, etc.?

"The downside is minimal," he contended.

I asked him if he is a paid consultant for Broadwater, and he insisted that he receives no money from them.

"My whole motivation is to prevent another Shoreham, and for Long Island not to shoot itself in the foot again. Everyone had the same kind of objections based on emotion and hysteria that caused Shoreham to be shut down."

Obviously, Cordaro is unrepentent about the Shoreham fiasco that has cost, and still is costing Long Islander's billions of dollars. It seems we simple folks just worry too darn much about fish and the people who catch them for us, and about our right to have a say over public property and what is done there. We should just leave our energy decisions to experts like him.

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