Multiple power generation companies in western Queens are vying for state approval to move to cleaner energy sources. Clint Plummer, CEO of Rise Light & Power, told the Chronicle last week that his company’s plan for the existing Ravenswood Generating Station in Long Island City has an advantage that others don’t.
The proposal, now before the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, is called the Catskill Renewable Program, in which the company would contract with wind and solar energy providers upstate.
“We will literally be tearing out old fossil fuel peaking units and in their place be constructing the new, clean energy infrastructure that will deliver renewable power from upstate New York,” he said in a telephone interview last Friday. “And we’ll reduce New York City’s dependence on fossil fuel.”
Plummer said the plan is to secure contracts with upstate wind and solar energy providers to lay a 1,200-watt transmission line underground and underwater to connect the Ravenswood site to the Capital region where it would tie into the bulk transmission infrastructure that distributes power throughout the Empire State.
“If you look at the north end of our site, you’ll see 1960s and 1970s fossil fuel units,” Plummer said. “Most have been decommissioned.” The rest will be shut down by 2023.
Rise expects NYSERDA to give a ruling on the application in the third or fourth quarter of this year. If approved, the company forecasts taking until about the end of 2023 to get the remainder of approvals that will be required by the state.
Construction then could begin on transmission lines and the new Ravenswood infrastructure could be completed for operation in either late 2026 or early 2027.
“We have a high degree of confidence that we will get that approval, because our project is cost-effective,” Plummer said. “It’s designed to deliver environmental justice in that we’ll be delivering 15 percent of New York City’s energy supply with clean energy made in New York State. And through that, we’re delivering a great deal of economic development and job creation.”
A press release from the company on May 12 estimated $2 billion in economic development and up to 5,000 new clean energy jobs.
Plummer said the company right now is working to demonstrate that there would be customers for the electricity — typical customers would be Con Edison, commercial and industrial users and others who turn to the electricity market.
“That one’s critical because in the absence of having a customer a project of this magnitude can’t go forward,” he said, adding that Rise has been engaging in the engineering and other studies for over a year.
“We’re making a very significant investment right now in finishing marine route surveys that are necessary,” Plummer said. “We literally have boats on the water as we’re speaking, surveying on a foot-by-foot, every link in the chain basis, the entire route from the Ravenswood Station to the Capital district.”
In the May 12 release, Queens Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tom Grech called the proposal “a bold opportunity for economic development, jobs, innovation and inclusive growth around the borough, as well as cleaner and healthier communities.”
Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership, said it would help turn the neighborhood into a center for renewable energy.
Claudia Coger, president of the residents association at the New York City Housing Authority’s Astoria Houses, cited the longterm environmental benefits.
“We have lived near the smokestacks for decades and have been waiting for visionary leadership to clean the facility,” Coger said.