ASTORIA – New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, on October 13 issued the following statement on the New York Power Authority’s agreement to work with members of the PEAK Coalition to explore clean replacements for New York City’s dirty “peaker” plants:
“Today marks a milestone agreement between the New York Power Authority and leaders in New York City’s environmental justice communities, who for too long have lived in the shadows of smoke stacks. Committing to replace these power plants should be step one, however, in a long road to creating a clean, equitable future. This news only reinforces the need for a Renewable Rikers, which would enable the closure of gas-fired ‘peaker’ plants all over the City. We should be focused here, on renewable energy that cleans the air in historically over-polluted neighborhoods, instead of on building new natural gas plants here in Astoria.”
· Peaker plants were mostly built after 2001 amid fears New York City would see rolling blackouts similar to those in California at the time. Many were built in Black and Brown neighborhoods, in what are now classified by the state as Environmental Justice communities, despite residents’ protests. Though they only kick on when energy demand is at its peak, they are often the dirtiest in the state.
· Constantinides has proposed closing peaker plants in place of clean, renewable energy. Central to this is Renewable Rikers, which will use the 413-acre island for renewable energy and other critical infrastructure. This will create thousands of jobs, which should be filled by people who live in environmental justice communities.
· Astoria residents have also opposed the planned construction of a new natural gas-fired power plant. Western Queens generates roughly half of New York City’s power, but its residents pay an unhealthy price with higher rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. They have argued this plant will only worsen air quality and accelerate the effects of climate change. Instead, they believe we must invest in clean energy that is affordable and creates good jobs.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.