Officials breaks ground on $6 billion Champlain Hudson Power Express bringing clean energy to ‘asthma alley’ in western Queens

Champlain Hudson Power Express clean energy
Governor Kathy Hochul (c.) helps break ground in the $6 billion Champlain Hudson Power Express that will deliver clean energy from Canada to Astoria. (Courtesy of governor’s office)

Construction is underway on the $6 billion Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line that will deliver reliable clean energy from Canadian hydroelectric plants directly to a converter station in Astoria.

Governor Kathy Hochul helped break ground on the 339-mile-long green infrastructure project in upstate Washington County along the southern end of Lake Champlain and the Vermont border on Nov. 30, calling it a major step forward in reaching New York’s ambitious clean energy goals.

“As construction begins on this project to help deliver clean energy to New York City, our state is setting yet another example of what climate action looks like,” Hochul said. “The Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line is a monumental step toward protecting our environment and creating family-sustaining, green jobs in both upstate and downstate New York. In partnership with union labor, this green infrastructure project will bring billions of dollars in economic benefits to our state and will pave the way for cleaner air and a healthier future for all New Yorkers.”

Once completed, Champlain Hudson Power Express will deliver 1,250 megawatts of clean hydroelectricity, enough to power over one million homes, and will reduce carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons statewide, the equivalent of taking over half a million cars off the road every year. The transmission line is expected to be fully operational in the spring of 2026.

The chief architect of the historic Green New Deal for New York City, former Councilman Costa Constantinides, said the project will have huge implications for his neighborhood of Astoria in a section of Queens long-known as “asthma alley” for its high rates of respiratory diseases.

“It’s a huge deal for the community and Western Queens with all of the fossil fuel-burning power plants that provide more than 55% of the city’s electricity,” Constantinides told QNS. “This brings us closer to making New York City a safer place to breathe for all New Yorkers.”

Constantinides is now the CEO of the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens.

“Many of the young people we primarily serve grew up in NYCHA developments next to these power plants, so this has huge implications for them,” Constantinides said. Hydro-Quebec and Transmission Developers Inc., the companies that are building Champlain Hudson Power Express, are investing $1.25 million to build a new carbon-neutral science lab in VBGC’s new 5-story clubhouse.

The companies developing the transmission line are investing $1.25 million in a new state-of-the-art learning lab in the new Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens building (Courtesy of VBGC)

“They’re demonstrating that not only can you bring clean energy but you can also make investments in the community and train the scientists for the 21st century,” Constantinides said. “The new renewable energy Learning Lab means our kids will learn about the energy revolution that’s happening around them, learning about hydropower, learning about wind power, learning about solar power. We know that they’re going to be part of that clean energy revolution and not just watching from the sidelines.”

Former councilman Costa Constantinides says the project will provide relief for families living in “asthma alley” in western Queens. (QNS file photo)

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said the fully-buried transmission line will bring clean energy to Astoria and a better future for families living under a cloud of heavily polluted air.

“The Champlain Hudson Power Express is nothing short of a massive investment in both the long-term sustainability of our borough and the health of our families,” Richards said. “This historic project will help end our state’s dependency on fossil fuels and power Queens with clean energy, improving public health and ensuring the borough we leave for our children will not just be a habitable one, but a thriving one. I look forward to working with Governor Hochul and all our partners to do just that.”

Mayor Eric Adams said the start of construction marks a major milestone for the city.

“This is a historic day in the city’s and state’s mobilization against climate change and a nation-leading win for environmental justice,” Adams said. “The completion of the Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line will enable the closure of some of the oldest and most polluting power plants in the state, which are located near communities whose residents suffer disproportionately from respiratory and cardiovascular disease. This project is also a major investment in the green economy, with its creation of family-sustaining union jobs, which will help create a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable New York City.”