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Families gather in Queensbridge Park for inaugural Earth Day Picnic

A young advocate attending the picnic. Photo by Tylik Hill

Apr. 24, 2024 By Queens Post News Team

Dozens of families gathered in Queensbridge Park on Monday to mark the first-annual Earth Day Picnic, celebrating plans to transform New York City’s largest fossil fuel powerplant into a renewable energy hub. 

The event, hosted by Queens-based energy asset management company Rise Light & Power, featured climate and energy education, children’s art stations, dance lessons, and a circus workshop. 

Representatives from a number of local organizations attended Monday’s event, including the Variety Boys & Girls Club, the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement, Urban Upbound, and the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee (HANAC). 

Photo by Tylik Hill

Elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Council Member Julie Won, State Senator Kristen Gonzalez, and Deputy Borough President Ebony Young, also attended the event, which took place beside the Ravenswood Generating Station. 

Under the Renewable Ravenswood plan, Ravenswood, which generates 20% of New York’s electricity, will be converted into a renewable plant. 

As part of the plan, Ravenswood’s generators will be replaced with offshore wind power, wind power from upstate New York, and solar power. 

The power created at the clean energy hub would be fed into New York City’s electric grid in a coordinated and reliable manner, while the plan also calls for battery storage facilities to balance the intermittent nature of renewable energy. 

Renewable Ravenswood aims to help New York State meet the requirements set by the 2019 NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which requires the state to supply 70% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 and 100% by 2040. 

Elected officials attending Monday’s event called on Governor Kathy Hochul to take concrete action in the coming year to advance the plan and create a clean energy hub on the LIC waterfront. 

Photo by Tylik Hill

With America’s first renewable repowering of a fossil fuel power plant taking place right here in Long Island City, we are making history, and that is worthy of a celebration, particularly on Earth Day,” Congresswoman Velázquez said on Monday. 

“I am pleased that the First Annual Renewable Ravenswood Earth Day event will be the first of many – and we will keep coming back until the job is done. No hurdle is too high in the fight for clean air and environmental justice.” 

Council Member Julie Won said the transformation of the Ravenswood Generating Station into a clean energy hub will have “far-reaching impacts”, creating green energy jobs and providing cleaner air for local residents. 

New York must continue investing in renewable energy in our city to lower harmful emissions, provide sustainable power, and bring us one step closer to our long-term environmental goals,” Won said. 

Rise Light & Power CEO Clint Plummer said Monday’s Earth Day Picnic represents a “new tradition for Western Queens,” describing the event as a symbol of support for the Renewable Ravenswood project. 

Earth Day is a time to remember that we only have one home and that we need to be good stewards of it,” Plummer said on Monday. “We must all hold each other accountable for the tangible steps forward that are imperative for a responsible and just clean energy transition.” 

Photo by Tylik Hill

Costa Constantinides, CEO of the Variety Boys & Girls Club, said Monday’s event was a celebration of the potential of Renewable Ravenswood. 

“Western Queens has too long been the home to fossil fuel infrastructure polluting the lungs of our residents,” Constantinides said. 

“The time is now to replace Asthma Alley with Renewable Row. Renewable Ravenswood shutters fossil fuel infrastructure and replaces it with good jobs, investment in our community and clean air.” 

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez said the Renewable Ravenswood project is “especially meaningful” for local communities, who have faced higher rates of asthma than the New York City average. 

“Rise Light & Power’s projects will phase out fossil fuel generation and create green, union jobs while transitioning the city to renewable energy,” Ocasio Cortez said in a statement supporting Monday’s event. 

Rise Light & Power published its comprehensive redevelopment plans for the Ravenswood powerplant in July 2022 and hosted a number of community engagement activities last summer. 

Last month, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced the launch of a community-centered planning study to determine the benefits of the proposed clean energy hub. 

Richards has partnered with Rise Light & Power for the Reimagine Ravenswood Just Transition site reuse planning study. 

The study, partially funded by Rise Light & Power, will evaluate the economic benefits of the Renewable Ravenswood project and obtain feedback from local residents. 

In a statement on Monday, Richards praised Rise Light & Power for hosting the inaugural Earth Day Picnic and called for the creation of a greener, more sustainable Queens. 

I look forward to our continued partnership as we right the historic environmental wrongs of the past and ensure that Western Queens families have a cleaner community to call home,” Richards said. 

email the author: news@queenspost.com

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Jimmy Diaz

While it’s counterintuitive to see an Earth Day event be hosted by a power plant, so glad to see the community turnout and strong voices on the need to move this plan forward to bring clean energy to Queens — esp with our Gov and NYSERDA experiencing setbacks in climate/offshore wind programs.

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