November 22, 2021 Ta’Leah Van Sixtine
Part of the Astoria power complex – which once produced electricity from fossil fuels – will be transformed into an emissions-free converter station thanks to a project announced by Governor Kathy Hochul in September.
The complex, located at the end of Steinway Street near Luyster Creek, will be supplied with renewable energy via the recently announced Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line that stretches 339 miles from the Canada-US border.
The project will provide approximately 1,250 megawatts, enough to power more than one million New York homes. The facility is expected to be fully operational in 2025.
“The transition from a former fuel oil storage facility to an emissions-free power plant will create well-paying jobs across New York City and Astoria (and generate) income to pay for schools and community services while improving the quality of community air, ”a spokesperson for Transmission Developers, Inc. – the developer of the project – said in a statement.
Hydro-Québec – a public utility that manages the production, transmission and distribution of electricity – is working with TDI on the CHPE project. Hydro-Quebec owns dams in the Quebec City region that will supply the project with renewable hydroelectricity.
The project is one of two selected by Governor Hochul that focuses on energy efficiency. The other is called Clean Path NY, which will provide clean electricity to the Rainey substation in Long Island City, construction of which is expected to begin after 2024.
Details on what the Clean Path NY project entails were not provided by project representatives.
The two projects were selected from a list of seven submitted to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a state utility corporation that focuses on energy efficiency. The proposals involved providing electricity to New York City through wind, solar and hydroelectric power.
One of the proposals that was not approved by NYSERDA was the Catskills Renewable Connector project, which would have turned the Ravenswood plant into a renewable energy hub.
Former New York City Council member Costa Constantinides – while welcoming the selection of the two projects – said it was disappointing that NYSERDA had not accepted additional proposals.
“We are talking about the State’s objective of being 70% renewable [energy generation] by 2030, which is now almost eight years away, frightening, ”Constantinides said. “[The fact] that we refuse projects? I don’t find this to be a great paradigm. I hope the state will reconsider.
Constantinides, however, praised the state for rejecting NRG’s proposal to rebuild its state-of-the-art factory in Astoria, which would still depend on fossil fuels. The existing NRG plant will be forced to close in May 2023 because it will no longer comply with state-level restrictions on nitrogen oxides emissions.
Constantinides noted that the focus should be on renewable energy and that there are other projects underway.
Equinor, a Norwegian energy giant, is developing a wind farm off the south coast of Massachusetts that will run 200 miles under the Long Island Strait to a substation in Astoria. It would also represent approximately 1,250 megawatts.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who also opposed the NRG project, also said in a statement that Queens cannot continue to depend on fossil fuels given climate change. The way the city is powered must change, he said.
He praised the CHPE project when asked.
“The project represents a significant investment in the long-term sustainability of our borough and the health of our families,” said Richards. “This effort to end our dependence on fossil fuels and power Queens with clean energy… will improve public health and help ensure that the borough we leave for our children is not only livable but prosperous.”
The CHPE project would create 1,400 jobs statewide, officials said. When fully operational, it would meet 20% of New York City’s electricity needs.
The project, however, has yet to go through the review process by the New York Civil Service Commission. If the approval process goes as planned, construction could begin in 2022.