KeySpan Corporation, the power company operating in the northeast US, announced Friday that New York State administrative law judges would allow the proposed expansion of its 2200 MW Ravenswood plant to go to the next stage of approval. If approved by the full Siting board, the new plant could be operational by 2003.

The expansion entails the installation of a 250 MW, gas-powered unit. Ravenswood is located in Long Island City, Queens and is currently the largest generator in New York City producing about 25 per cent of New York City’s electricity. The cogeneration expansion will allow for an increase in Ravenswood’s electric generation capacity of 12 per cent, to a maximum 2450 megawatts.

“This recommendation is a major step forward in KeySpan’s efforts to provide greater electric generating capacity in New York City,” said Robert B. Catell, chairman and chief executive officer. “As the largest investor-owned producer of power in New York State, KeySpan plays a critical role in providing competitive, market-based power in the New York metropolitan area. Our proposed combined cycle unit will help meet future power demands in New York City cleanly and reliably, especially during heat waves such as we are now experiencing.”

The expansion project has received the support of the Natural Resources Defence Council. The modern environmental controls at the Ravenswood plant have won the New York State Governor’s Award for Energy Excellence. Ravenswood was acquired by a subsidiary of KeySpan in June 1999. Since that time, KeySpan has invested heavily in air quality improvement projects to make the facility one of the lowest emitting generators in the City.

A member of the S&P 500, KeySpan Corporation is the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeast USA, with 2.4 million gas customers and more than 13 000 employees. KeySpan is also the largest investor-owned electric generator in New York State and operates Long Island’s electric system under contract with the Long Island Power Authority for its 1.1 million customers.