Renewable Ravenswood: NYC Game-Changer in the Neighborhood?

Renewable Ravenswood: NYC Game-Changer in the Neighborhood?

Bright and massive, the Ravenswood Power Plant kept the lights on in New York City since the 1960s. For Astoria in Queens and Roosevelt Island, it has another legacy: Asthma Alley.

Fossil Fuel pollution fell silently and hazardously throughout surrounding neighborhoods. But a new day may be on the horizon as Rise Light & Power, the plant’s owner, mapped a plan for transforming it fully into a clean energy hub: Renewable Ravenswood.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

About Renewable Ravenswood

A clean energy hub is a complex set of systems that generates and distributes renewable energy.

The plan is still in its early stages, and several clearances are needed before it can proceed. But if successful, the conversion would be a game-changer for New York City, providing clean energy for tens of thousands of homes and businesses while becoming a model for other cities around the world.

How it worked with Ravenswood’s Previous Owner

“Rise’s innovative clean energy solution, “Renewable Ravenswood,” repositions the 27-acre waterfront industrial site to serve as a central hub that can integrate clean energy sources, including offshore wind and upstate wind and solar, directly into New York City’s electric grid in a coordinated, planned, and reliable manner,” Rise said in a press release.

“Renewable Ravenswood advances New York’s efforts to accelerate the retirement of the state’s fossil fuel facilities by 2030, particularly those located near historically disadvantaged communities.

“Renewable Ravenswood goes further by replacing fossil fuel power with homegrown and locally sourced clean energy while also providing economic opportunities and environmental justice for both its workforce and surrounding communities.”

The Renewable Ravenswood comprehensive redevelopment plan encompasses five programs:

  1. Offshore Wind: Helping New York State achieve its nation-leading offshore wind goals by repurposing existing infrastructure to connect thousands of megawatts of clean energy to the New York City grid to where it is most needed.
  2. Upstate Renewables: Catalyzing New York State’s homegrown renewables potential by connecting new wind, solar, and other clean energy resources from Upstate to New York City’s electric grid to provide reliable, year-round power.
  3. Clean Thermal Energy: Repurposing Ravenswood’s river water intake system to provide zero-emission thermal energy to nearby communities.
  4. Energy Storage: Helping to balance the intermittent nature of renewables by deploying large-scale battery energy storage directly on the facility site.
  5. Just Transition: Maintaining our strong commitment to the on-site union workforce by keeping and creating family-sustaining, good paying jobs, and providing clean energy job training and workforce development opportunities.

Seismic Change

Retiring the 1960s-era fossil units at Ravenswood and repurposing the property for renewables will represent a seismic change to New York City’s energy landscape. Plans for Renewable Ravenswood were developed by Rise Light & Power based on engagement with local labor leaders, government officials, and environmental justice and community advocates to ensure delivery of unprecedented benefits, that includes:

  • Serving as New York City’s Largest-Ever Environmental Justice Project: Rise developed the plans in coordination with local community and environmental justice leaders and local New York City Housing Authority housing developments to ensure local economic benefits accrue directly to community members.
  • Utilizing Existing Infrastructure to Lower Costs: This project will retire and repurpose the real estate and infrastructure of three fossil fuel units at Ravenswood to facilitate cost-effective integration of renewable resources.
  • Providing a New Model for a Just Transition for Union Workers: By coordinating with the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 1-2, Rise will ensure workers are trained and employed in the renewable work at the facility—keeping and creating family-sustaining, union jobs.

Significantly Reducing Fossil Fuel Dependence: Renewable Ravenswood will improve air quality around the state, especially in nearby underserved communities.

Ravenswood, if given the green light by authorities, would provide more than 2 million New York homes with renewable energy and clean heating and cooling for up to 15,000 local residences.

Later this year, Renewable Ravenswood plans to submit the first of many comprehensive applications and detailed plans with state energy authorities and regulators. Each of Renewable Ravenswood’s five programs is subject to several regulatory approvals, and further information will be provided in the following months.

A Roosevelt Island Twist

Although the transition to renewables has been championed by Governor Kathy Hochul, neither her local surrogate, RIOC, nor her office issued any statement. The Residents Association’s Common Council also appeared out of the loop.

Instead, Roosevelt Island’s representation landed with The Carter Burden Network which manages the community’s senior center at 546 Main Street. Manager Lisa Fernandez maintains a solid relationship with Ravenswood’s management, securing program donations over the last several years.

“Carter Burden Network and its Roosevelt Island Older Adult Center applaud Rise Light & Power’s visionary and extensive clean energy and economic development plan for the Ravenswood Generating Station,” said William J. Dionne, Executive Director, Carter Burden Network. “It is refreshing to see energy company leadership that is committed to investing in innovative green solutions that align with climate and energy goals that benefit all in the community. We appreciate their commitment to the communities they serve, which will hopefully be a model for other energy companies to follow.”

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