Public Advocate Williams endorses plan to transform ‘Big Allis’ into renewable energy hub

The city’s public advocate supports transforming the Ravenswood Generating Station, known locally as Big Allis, into a renewable energy hub. (QNS file photo)

As the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority prepares to make critical decisions about delivering environmental justice to “Asthma Alley” in western Queens, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams recently announced his support for a plan to transform the massive Ravenswood Generating Station in Long Island City into a renewable energy hub.

Rise Light & Power, a Queens-based manager and developer of energy assets, 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.

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.

“A renewed deal for New York must center renewable energy and environmental justice, especially for communities left behind by economic advancement or victimized by environmental abuses,” Williams said. “As we work to transform and revitalize our power grid citywide, it’s critical to prioritize racial equity in renewable energy, and the Catskills Renewable Connector would be an essential component of a renewable New York. We cannot choose between economic and environmental justice, advancing our city means advancing these principles together, and this project is a great example.”

If approved by NYSERDA, Rise Light & Power will contract with leading renewable energy developers in upstate New York to build thousands of megawatts of new wind and solar energy, and it will build the Catskills Renewable Connector to deliver that clean energy to customers in New York City.

It welcome news to those that have led the fight for environmental justice in the area of western Queens known as “Asthma Alley” where residents suffer a high rate of respiratory ailments due to power plants in Long Island City and Astoria that produce over 50 percent of the entire city’s electricity.

“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 Light & Power CEO Clint Plummer said. “The public advocate has been a strong voice for environmental justice across our great city. We are proud to work with him and to deliver the large-scale renewable energy projects that will help create a cleaner, more sustainable city for all New Yorkers.”

The Catskills Renewable Connector would supply approximately 15 percent of New York City’s energy needs, reducing reliance on out-of-state resources and shrinking the city’s carbon footprint.

The project is estimated to lower CO2 emissions in New York state by 10 percent and by 15 percent in New York City by 2030.