NAACP-NYCHA leader endorses plan to turn Big Allis into renewable energy hub

NAACP-NYCHA chapter leader endorses Catskills Renewable Connector proposal that would turn the Ravenswood Generating Station into a clean energy hub. (QNS file photo)

Support is growing in western Queens to transform Big Allis, the Ravenswood Generating Station in Long Island City, into a massive renewable energy hub across Vernon Boulevard from the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in the nation.

Leaders from the NYCHA branch of the NAACP and more than a thousand residents of western Queens NYCHA developments Monday endorsed the proposed Catskills Renewable Connector, a 1,200 megawatt renewable transmission line from upstate to New York City, saying it was the best opportunity for the state to prioritize environmental justice and protect the health of residents across the city.

The endorsement comes as the state Energy Research and Development Authority reviews a series of proposals that will help reduce the city’s dependence on fossil-based power by developing and delivering clean, renewable energy from outside the city. Rise Light & Power, a Queens-based manager and developer of energy assets, which owns of the Ravenswood Generating Station, announced its plan for a new 1,200-megawatt buried renewables-transmission line that will carry homegrown wind and solar energy from upstate, delivering clean energy to the city while reducing downstate’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“Environment justice is a civil rights issue,” Lynn Spivey, president of the NAACP-NYCHA branch, said. “For generations, communities of color have been forced to live next to toxic plants, poisoning the air they breathe, spreading illness and asthma, and limiting the spaces where their children can play. Now is the time for justice. This proposal, this moment, is our opportunity to come together and create healthy, sustainable communities for everyone.”

More than 1,000 NYCHA residents at Queensbridge, Astoria, Woodside and Ravenswood Houses signed a petition saying Rise Light & Power has long supported causes important to NYCHA residents.

The Catskills Renewable Connector “represents hope for environmental justice for our community to breathe cleaner air and accelerate Ravenswood’s transition from fossil fuels to clean energy,” the petition reads. “We hope the Catskills Renewable Connector is made a reality for the sake of our community, for the sake of our collective health.”

The first-of-its-kind Catskills Renewable program will advance the state’s climate goals and help drive the post-pandemic economic recovery, generating $2 billion in economic development and more than 5,000 local clean-energy jobs, according to the proposal.

It would supply approximately 15 percent of the city’s electricity needs, reducing reliance on out-of-state resources and shrinking the city’s carbon footprint by nearly 2 million tons, the equivalent of taking 400,000 cars off the road.

“We believe that Rise Light & Power has a responsibility to serve as a catalyst for positive change, both in our communities and the entire industry,” Rise Lights & Power CEO Clint Plummer said. “Our team is very proud to receive the support of the western Queens community. But we also know it’s only one step on a long journey. Together with the community, we are committed to investing in large-scale renewable energy projects, helping to create local jobs and a cleaner, more sustainable city for all New Yorkers.”

The Long Island City Partnership and the Queens Chamber of Commerce have previously endorsed the proposal.