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Politics

Queens Leaders Call on NYS to Keep Its Promises to Build Renewable Energy

February 17, 2022

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY – Community leaders, environmental advocates were joined by Environmental Protection Chair of the New York City Council James F. Gennaro at the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City on February 15 calling on the Public Service Commission to approve both projects scheduled to be built to provide emissions-free power to NYC lessening the dependence on fossil fuel burning power plants in their neighborhood.

With fifty-five percent of NYC power generation coming from Western Queens, the residents of 11101, 11102, 11106 have borne the burden of fossil fuel burning plants with increased asthma rates higher than the Queens Borough average. The two tier 4 contracts have the potential to bring over 2500 MW of renewable energy to Queens replacing fossil peaker plant demand and moving the city towards meeting the goals of a 70% clean energy grid by 2030 and 100% clean energy grid by 2040 as per the CLCPA. Today, New York State only has 28% renewable energy in its power mix.

On February 21st, the Public Service Commission will close public comment on the Tier 4 contracts and schedule a full vote by their commissioners sometime in March. If both projects are not approved, they will not move forward, and the city will continue to rely on fossil fuels as their primary source of energy production. Following the closure of Indian Point, the city now relies on fossil fuels for 90% of its energy production. As the largest transmission projects contracted for New York State in the last 50 years, these projects will reduce the city’s fossil fuel use for electricity by more than 80 percent in 2030 when combined with the state’s deployment of clean energy and offshore wind.

“We need to build renewable energy period. The time for action is now and we can no longer wait to clean our grid. For too long, fossil fuel burning power plants have polluted our neighborhood making our families sicker increasing our asthma rates. We have even seen our utility bills skyrocket in the last month due to volatility of the gas markets.  Renewable power like CHPE, Clean Path NY, Equinor Wind and more will have stable reliable rates while helping to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. When you add the prospect of community investment and good jobs, this is a win-win situation NYS cannot walk away from for Western Queens.  Today we call on the PSC to start remedying the cost of fossil fuels in our neighborhood and begin by approving both Tier 4 projects. It’s time to walk the walk on the talk of a renewable future for NYC,” said former NYC Councilmember/chair of environmental protection committee Costa Constantinides.

“Black and Brown communities in District 26 have been forced to suffer the negative health effects of living next to toxic energy facilities for too long. Converting to green energy is an issue of racial justice as much as environmental justice and we must push PSC to recognize this and commit to abandoning outdated and dangerous fossil fuel plants and adopting cleaner and greener renewable facilities immediately,” said Council Member Julie Won. “The status quo is not an option for our planet or the many families suffering from respiratory diseases directly linked to these dirty power plants. We need bold and transformative action now to achieve equity and justice for our communities and this is our chance to do it.”

Community leaders, environmental advocates, including Costa Constantinides at the podium, were joined by Environmental Protection Chair of the NYC Council James F. Gennaro at the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City on February 15 calling on the Public Service Commission to approve projects for emissions-free power. Photo: Alexia Makrigiannis

“I urge the State to prioritize funding for renewable energy projects that help us shift away from climate killing fossil fuels and meet New York’s climate goals,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “I am particularly concerned by reports that some of these projects are stalling due to cost. We are in a global climate crisis, and the cost of doing nothing is far greater. Now is the time to act.”

“It is crucial that the State invest in renewable energy and shift away from harmful fossil fuels – especially in Western Queens, where the asthma rates are significantly higher than other parts of the city. Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our city – and this country. As Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, I vow to take the charge in this fight for a greener, more sustainable NYC. I’d like to thank my colleague, former Council Member Costa Constantinides, and all the environmental advocates here today, for their efforts to improve our air quality and make Queens more environmentally-friendly,” said NYC Councilmember/Chair of Environmental Protection Committee James F. Gennaro.

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