Jan. 26, 2023 By Michael Dorgan, with additional reporting by Paul Frangipane
The plan to transform the Ravenswood Generating Station into a clean energy hub has taken a big step forward with its operators announcing that they have acquired an offshore wind site to deliver power to the plant.
Representatives of Rise Light & Power, which operates the station located north of the Queensboro Bridge, made the announcement at the plant Tuesday, Jan. 24, with local leaders and environmental activists present.
Rise Light & Power officials said that the offshore site would deliver more than 1,000 megawatts of power to the plant. The Ravenswood station currently generates around 1,800 megawatts and is powered mostly by gas.
The offshore site, which would consist of a number of wind turbines, is situated off the coast of New York and is not visible from land, officials said. Once operational, the power generated from the site would then be fed to the Ravenswood Generating Station, which would, in turn, be fed directly into New York City’s electric grid.
The transition would form part of Rise Light & Power’s overall plan to retire its existing four generators and turn the 27-acre site into a renewable energy hub. The company plans to generate power through clean energy sources, including offshore wind, wind from upstate New York, and solar power.
The plan is being referred to as “Renewable Ravenswood,” and it aims to help the state meet the clean energy requirements set by the 2019 NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The law requires the state to supply 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030—and 100 percent by 2040.
The transition to renewables also aims to dramatically reduce pollution emanating from the massive plant which is situated across the street from Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in North America. It is also near Ravenswood Houses NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) complex and the Astoria Houses NYCHA development.
Ravenswood is one of several power plants located along the Astoria/Long Island City waterfront, which has led to elevated pollution levels hence its nickname “Asthma Alley.”
Clint Plummer, the CEO of Rise Light & Power, said Ravenswood Generating Station would be the first major fossil-fuel plant in the country to be repowered by offshore wind.
“It’s just common sense to unplug a 60-year-old fossil generator and to plug in a new offshore wind generator and that’s exactly what we’re going to do with this,” Plummer said.
Plummer said that Rise Light & Power is committed to retaining the current workforce at the plant during and after the transition. The workers are members of the UWUA Local 1-2 union.
Additionally, he said that the transition to renewable energy would reduce the cost of electricity for ratepayers in the city.
The timeline for when the offshore site is fully operational is unclear. However, the complete overhaul of the Ravenswood station should be completed by the end of the decade if all goes to plan. The project requires local, state and federal regulatory approval.
Rise Light & Power, which is owned by the New York company LS Power Group, is submitting its application for the offshore wind site today to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). In December, the company applied to construct two transmission lines under the East River that would bring power into the site.
Borough President Donovan Richards said the plans prove that Queens is leading the way in a clean energy revolution and fighting climate change.
“We’re retiring pollution here with this project,” Richards said. “Everybody deserves to breathe clean air in our city, no matter where you’re from.”
Meanwhile, Costa Constantinides, a former city council member and environmental activist, said the project would turn “asthma alley” into “renewable row.”
“This is generational change,” Constantinides said.
“This is an opportunity to take these stacks that have been part of the landscape of New York City and see them come down in our lifetime, see the fossil fuel infrastructure disappear in western Queens, see a brand-new day come where our kids can breathe clean air.”