Freeport fires up its redone turbine

Officials: Gas-powered jet engine now more reliable, cleaner-burning


Freeport Power and Electric recently completed a $2 million upgrade of its LM6000 turbine, a gas-powered jet engine normally used to power 747 airplanes, but in this case is used to power Freeport Electric Plant No. 2, on Buffalo Avenue in an industrial section of south Freeport.

Power Plant No. 2 helps keep the lights on in Freeport during peak-use hours in the heat of the summer, as well as supplies power to the Long Island and Northeast electric grids, for which Freeport is paid.

The LM6000 was installed in 2003 when Plant No. 2 was entirely redone. For more than 30 years, the plant had operated with two old Fiat ship engines. Before 2003, it had no pollution controls. After hundreds of Freeport and Merrick residents protested operation of the diesel engines, Freeport installed a clean-burning, gas-fired turbine that met all federal and state air-quality regulations 14 years ago.

The recent upgrade, which is intended to make the turbine even cleaner-burning, was the first since the General Electric-made LM6000 was installed, according to Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy, who was on hand on Monday to watch as the redone turbine was fired up.

Funds for repair work to the turbine came from the plant’s maintenance account, according to Al Livingston, the Freeport Power and Electric superintendent.

“There is a maintenance schedule for” the LM6000, Livingston said. “Approximately 16,000 hours is when we get the upgrade for this. This will be a lot more efficient and reliable.”

Freeport is the largest municipally owned power supplier on Long Island, serving over 45,000 homes. Freeport is the only village on Long Island to own a jet-engine turbine.

“We work around the clock to provide the most efficient power supply to the Northeast grid,” Kennedy said. “We have the ability to turn this power plant on and provide power within 30 minutes. We only provide power to the Village of Freeport in the event of an emergency.”

Freeporters, Kennedy noted, benefit from the lowest electric rates on Long Island, which are 30 to 40 percent below what PSEG-LI customers pay.

“The successful $2 million overhaul and the reinstallation of the LM6000 gas turbine represents hundreds of hours of intensive engineering,” Kennedy said, “as well as additional capacity, reliability and efficiency to our residents in Freeport and customers.”

Having its own power plant, Freeport was able to provide electricity to residents within 30 minutes of losing power after Superstorm Sandy struck in October 2012, village officials said.

The redone turbine, Kennedy said, means “we will provide more power as needed .. The grid has gotten larger, and the demand has gotten larger with the commercial businesses and the heat, so it’s necessary to upgrade.”

Freeport Power and Electric operates two power plants, with 75 megawatts of total electric capacity — enough to light 75,000 homes. It has 62 employees, who maintain seven generating units and 200 miles of electric wires.

Scott Brinton contributed to this story.