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State approves plan for Astoria clean energy hub at old Poletti power plant site

State regulators approved a Con Edison plan to build a large battery storage project in Astoria like this one in Ozone Park. (Photo by Willie Davis/Con Edison)

New York state energy regulators gave the green light to Con Edison and partner 174 Power Global to construct a large battery system in Astoria at the site of the old Charles Poletti fossil fuel plant near the East River.

The approval granted by the state Public Service Commission is an important step in the development of the East River Storage System, which will be able to store and discharge 100 megawatts, or 100 million watts, of electricity — enough to run 100,000 hair dryers or as many as 1 million desktop computers. The system will be able to store enough electricity to power One World Trade for about a day.

“Battery storage is essential to our quest to create a clean energy future and prevail against climate change,” said Leonard Singh, senior vice president of Customer Energy Solutions at Con Edison. “Bulk storage will let us bring large amounts of renewable energy to our customers without compromising our industry-leading reliability, even as fossil fuel generators in New York City are shuttered into retirement.”

Batteries make it possible to store energy created by renewable resources and provide that energy to customers when they need it. Utility-scale battery storage will grow in importance with the planned addition of large amounts of renewable energy in New York state, including 9,000 megawatts from offshore wind turbines.

Battery technology is an important part of the city and state’s environmental plans, which Con Edison supports. Con Edison seeks to offer customers 100 percent clean power by 2040, an achievement that would mean a dramatic improvement in air quality and public health.

174 Power Global, which specializes in renewable energy projects, will build the battery system by the end of 2011 and own it.

“Energy storage technology has emerged as an essential component of the energy landscape and the proliferation of energy storage projects in New York is critical to meeting the state’s ambitious climate change goals,” 174 Power Global President and CEO Henry Yun said. “We’re pleased to receive approval from the PSC and are one step closer to bringing clean power, as well as other regional electricity and economic benefits, to the Astoria community and state.”

The batteries will draw power from the grid at times when the demand for power is low and less expensive. They will discharge that power at times when the demand for power is high, decreasing the need for power from fossil fuel-fired plants.

The companies have a seven-year contract under which Con Edison will bid power from the battery system into the state’ wholesale market. At the end of the contract, 174 Power Global will dispatch the power into the state’s bulk power transmission system.

The PSC’s approval of this adaptive reuse project on NYPA’s site in Astoria is a big win for New York state and specifically the Queens community, and demonstrates an important step towards achieving our ambitious clean energy goals,” said Gil C. Quinnes, NYPA President and CEO. “Large-scale battery storage provides the opportunity for greater flexibility and resilience of the electric grid and will support the growth of renewable energy for decades to come.”

The batteries will connect to a nearby Con Edison substation. The batteries will be in containers and produce no emissions and little noise at the industrial site.

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