Costa Constantinides, CEO Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, at the podium, during the press conference on March 3 when Equinor and bp announced two major initiatives focused on Astoria. Photo: Equinor
ASTORIA – On March 3, Equinor and bp announced two major initiatives focused on Astoria: the purchase of the Astoria Gas Turbines site from NRG to repurpose it as a converter station connecting renewable offshore wind power to the New York grid, and a substantial investment in community resources to serve the youth of Queens. Equinor and bp were joined at the event by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), as well as elected officials including State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblymembers Zohran Mamdani, Jessica González-Rojas, and Juan Ardila, and Queens Deputy Borough President Ebony Young.
The future converter station, named the Astoria Gateway for Renewable Energy (AGRE), will replace the decades-old plant with a new source of renewable power for New York. The AGRE station will receive 1,230 megawatts of renewable energy – enough to power 1 million homes — generated by the Beacon Wind offshore wind project, located 60 miles off the eastern tip of Long Island, beginning in the late 2020s. The NRG facility is planned to cease operations and will begin decommissioning in May 2023. Pending permit approvals, Beacon Wind will begin site preparations in 2025, making AGRE one of the first fossil-to-renewable infrastructure repurposing in New York City.
Equinor and bp also announced a $1M partnership through Beacon Wind for a community-based Technology and Media Center, coupled with a sponsorship of $750,000 over ten years to support a Science and Technology program, for underserved youth at the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ). The new state-of-the-art Technology and Media Center will become a focal point for educating Astoria’s youth. The investment in curriculum development of a science and technology training program will help provide inclusive early education opportunities to local youth over the long-term, an important element of the workforce development pipeline needed to access the renewable energy jobs that are coming to New York.
“These investments in Astoria demonstrate the commitment of offshore wind to New Yorkers. Beacon Wind will bring an important new source of renewable power to a neighborhood marked by its industrial past, and now, community access to world class education on offshore wind through the Variety Boys and Girls Club. These classes will provide opportunities to underserved communities to obtain family-sustaining careers. Milestones like this are only possible due to New York’s favorable environment for investment and business, and we are excited for many positive developments to come,” said Molly Morris, President of Equinor Wind US.
“After years of successful organizing to stop the pollution from NRG’s gas plant in Astoria, the site will now be used to connect renewable, offshore wind power to the New York grid, which will create clean energy and good, green jobs,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “For too long, the people of western Queens have borne the brunt of the consequences of having New York’s polluting power plants in their backyard. A rebuilt NRG gas plant would have been yet another unfair burden for the community and the environment, but this new project will bring cleaner air and family-supporting jobs to the community, as well as long-term investments in science and technology training for Queens’ underserved youth.”
bp senior vice president offshore wind Matthias Bausenwein said: “These initiatives show how our offshore wind projects can advance the energy transition while supporting people and communities. Our investments will provide new resources for the youth of Queens and create a critical connection for bringing clean power to the New York grid.”
“Equinor’s commitment to create a gateway to our future here in Western Queens is a transformative moment for our community. The transition of the NRG site from fossil fuel to clean renewable wind power is a game changer for reducing respiratory illness and improving health. The energy transition needs champions like Equinor to help us move past the status quo of fossil fuels to create Renewable Row with clean power for our families to breathe easier. The partnership with the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens and Equinor to create the Equinor Media and Technology Center will help us bring this energy transition to life spurring the scientists of the 21st century right here in Western Queens. Thank you to Equinor for this monumental investment in our greatest resource, our children, and your vision to build a brighter, greener future,” said Costa Constantinides, CEO Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens.
Details of the sale from NRG to the Beacon Wind project are available through the New York Public Service Commission (PSC).
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