By Charlie Finnerty
Rise Light & Power hosted a community fair at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens Thursday Oct. 12 to inform local communities about plans to convert Ravenswood Generating Station to a renewable energy hub, connecting New York City’s power grid to a 80,000 acre wind farm 50 miles off the coast of Long Island as well as smaller upstate solar and wind farms.
The ambitious project will help the state reach a key clean energy milestone — a zero-emissions grid by 2040 — by using existing power infrastructure at the plant to connect one in five New York City homes to clean energy, removing over one million tons of carbon dioxide. Thursday’s event sought to connect the local Long Island City communities living in the shadow of Ravenswoods towering red and white smokestacks with the renewable energy initiative.
“Community education comes first,” Rise Light & Power Vice President of External Affairs Sid Nathan said. “We believe a stronger project is one that actually has community buy-in, and we have invested quite a bit of time and resources to put together a series of immersive community forums where a community member can learn about the project, but more importantly, actually voice their feedback, give us their concerns, and ask questions.”
The event connected residents with information about the existing generating station, the conversion plan and the benefits of implementing clean energy production. Bulletin boards were also made available for community members to write their questions and concerns about the project.
Rodney Askins grew up in Queensbridge Houses, a housing development less than half a mile from Ravenswood Generating Station. The 67-year-old is an organizer for Take Down The Stacks, a local grassroots organization advocating for residents living near Ravenswood who have been impacted by the pollution and air quality from the fossil fuel-burning smokestacks.
“Ravenswood Plant has affected the community a whole lot,” Askins said. “I know a lot of people that are sick, a lot of young adults that have health complications and there needs to be awareness of it. If we don’t do anything now, we won’t be able to do nothing later on in 10, 15 years.”
In addition to concerns about air quality, many residents raised concerns about employment opportunities at the plant which employs
Attentive Energy One — a joint venture between Rise Light & Power and French energy company TotalEnergies — made an agreement with the union representation of Ravenswood Station workers, Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, to retrain and retain any of the nearly 100 workers if they wish to remain at the plant as it transitions to clean energy.
“We are committed to making sure that those who have powered New York City reliably for the past 60 years, will have an opportunity to power reliably with clean energy for the next 60,” Nathan said. “Our strategy was, let’s not wait until 2039 and tell our workers ‘Sorry, you’re out of luck,’ let’s actually do the work now, put capital at risk on these projects to develop them.”