By Bill Parry
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) is supporting a plan to construct a $2.2 billion transmission line to import cleaner electricity to the Con Edison facility near 20th Avenue in Astoria from Canada.
The Champlain Hudson Power Express, when completed in 2018, will deliver 1,000 megawatts of energy to the grid and cut down on the air pollution that has plagued Astoria for years.
“I’ve been fighting pollution in this neighborhood for over a decade,” Gianaris said. “We’ve shouldered the burden for generations and, generally speaking, the more electricity we can bring in from outside the city, the better.”
The half dozen power plants in Astoria have produced 60 percent of the city’s power needs for several decades. Most of them are aging fossil fuel plants that belch pollution into the air and threaten the health of Gianaris’ constituents.
“We have to get more electricity into the grid without any more smokestacks,” Gianaris said.
Con Ed reached a deal with Transmission Developers Inc. to build the 333-mile underground cable that will deliver hydroelectric power from Quebec. Most of the cable will be submerged under Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. TDI is awaiting permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy, which are expected this summer.
Construction is slated to begin in the fall.
The company’s president, Donald Jessome, said, “Once in service, the CHPE will deliver an estimated $650 million a year in lower energy rates paid by consumers in New York state, create thousands of new jobs, thanks to those savings, and provide needed, clean energy to New York.”
The project enjoys the support of the Coalition Helping to Organize a Kleaner Environment. The Long Island City-based environmentalist group sued to have the Charles Poletti Power Plant closed in 2010 after it was named the city’s worst polluter.
“Almost all the power plants in Astoria use gas or oil to generate electricity, but the byproduct is pollution into the atmosphere that we inhale. They’re going to bring in clean electricity to this area and not pollute this area,” President Tony Gigantiello said.
Two Hudson River environmental groups, Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, agreed to support the project after TDI provided safeguards for the river and created a landmark environmental trust fund that will benefit the Hudson River ecosystem.
While Gianaris believes the installation of the transmission line can be done safely and with proper attention to environment, he has one goal in mind.
“Cutting down the number of pollution-generating smokestacks in the neighborhood is the most important thing for me,” he said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718.260.4538.