Ravenswood Generating Station in Long Island City goes green

Ravenswood Generating Station LIC goes green
The Ravenswood Generating Station (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Ravenswood Generating Station, also known as Big Allis, is planning to submit applications with the state to replace its 1960s units with renewable energy sources to power 2 million homes and help New York state reach its climate goals.

The 27-acre Long Island City industrial site, run by Rise Light & Power, will be redeveloped to integrate offshore wind energy and upstate wind and solar into New York City’s grid. “Renewable Ravenswood” also includes battery energy storage and clean thermal energy.

Rise, Light & Power has been scolded by locals and elected officials for its contributions to the climate crisis for years. Community activist and leader Bishop Mitchel Taylor previously said that Ravenswood needed to be shut down.

“We are the host to a dirty power plant that supplies 45% of the power to Manhattan but 100% of the pollution to Queensbridge [Houses],” Taylor said. “This plant here is next to the largest housing development in the country. People are dying every day because of pollution.”

Ravenswood is in close proximity to three New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments: Astoria Houses, Ravenswood Houses and Queensbridge Houses. Queensbridge Houses contain 96 buildings and have 3,147 apartments with approximately 7,000 residents, making it the largest NYCHA development.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ravenswood Generating Station has emitted nearly 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and .06 metric tons of methane in 2020 alone. The total population within three miles of the plant is 1,214,778, 45% of whom are people of color.

New York state is attempting to secure 70% renewable energy by 2030, which Rise Light & Power CEO Paul Segal said will be accelerated by this redevelopment.

New York has established nation-leading goals to tackle the climate crisis head-on, with rapid growth in renewables facilitating the energy transition,” Segal said. “A Renewable Ravenswood provides a coherent path for realizing the city’s and state’s goals for rapid deployment of low-carbon energy resources while ensuring continued energy security, affordability and reliability as our economy transitions toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

Elected officials are looking forward to the steps taken by Rise Light & Power to transition Big Allis to a renewable energy hub. U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said Renewable Ravenswood will be a major step toward environmental justice.

“The residents of my district have suffered through decades of pollution,” Maloney said. “A Ravenswood running on offshore wind power will solve this issue. I look forward to seeing a Renewable Ravenswood being a monument to Long Island City’s future as a clean energy provider.”

New York Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris mentioned “Asthma Alley,” which refers to the disproportionate rates of asthma in western Queens.

“Asthma Alley is a distinction western Queens is not proud of, and that means our community must be centered during the transition to clean energy with union jobs,” Gianaris said. “We need to encourage projects like Renewable Ravenswood, which focus on meeting our climate priorities … so we can have a just transition and protect our neighbors.”

As part of this transition, Rise Light & Power will also be coordinating with local leaders and NYCHA developments to ensure economic benefits are funneled directly back into the community.

CEO of Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens and former council member Costa Constantinides said he fully supports Renewable Ravenswood and looks forward to an energy revolution.

“Renewable Ravenswood is an exciting opportunity to replace fossil fuel generation, keep good union jobs and create a new path here in western Queens focused on the future,” Constantinides said.

Rise Light & Power plans to file formal plans and applications with state energy regulators later this year. Should the plan be approved, Ravenswood would power over 2 million New York homes with renewable energy, and provide clean heating and cooling for up to 15,000 local residences.

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