We are in the News: Energy project aims to provide cleaner air for Queens residents who live near Ravenswood Generating Station
Residents have long blamed the smoke stacks for high asthma rates, but fresh air may be coming.
Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled three offshore wind and 22 land-based renewable energy projects to power 2.6 million New York homes. Clean energy conversion at Ravenswood Generating Station is one of them. The Queens area is called “asthma alley.” Queensbridge has been home to Noel Merritt since the 1970s. He blames plant particles for his asthma.
“There was a thick acrid smell that was constantly bombarding us,” Merritt told News 12 New York. “The teacher opened the windows in school. He recalled that she closed the windows when she heard three long horns, so we couldn't go to recess, but when she heard three small horns, she opened them.
According to Public Health Solutions, Ravenswood and Queensbridge have 235.4 asthma-related hospitalizations per 10,000 children ages 5 to 17, compared to 115.4 in Astoria and 76.8 in Hunter's Point, Sunnyside, and Maspeth.
Mount Sinai environmental medicine expert Dr. Luz Claudio calls this environmental injustice.
This is what many NYC communities with higher asthma prevalence have in common. Environmental injustice stems from low-income neighborhoods, marginalized populations being burdened with facilities that generate pollutants, especially air pollution. This applies to several electricity plants, Claudio added. But there is currently an opportunity to reduce this burden, she said.
One company greening this fossil fuel facility is Rise Light and Power. In a statement to News 12, it said: "Attentive Energy One appreciates Governor Hochul and NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen Harris for their work in implementing New York's nation-leading Climate Act.
The 1.4 GW project will alter the City and State, incorporating environmental justice community input and ensuring a just transition for union workers. Attentive Energy One will retire and replace fossil fuel generation at Ravenswood Generating Station, New York City's largest power plant, with offshore wind, reducing emissions and retraining vital workers for the green economy.
Attentive Energy One builds support, incorporates feedback, and meets statewide community requirements throughout project development.
We appreciate the faith and support of so many partners and look forward to delivering this project for New Yorkers."
This state award will only eliminate one of Ravenswood's three smokestacks; future contracts will remove the rest. Everyone, even Merritt, agrees it's a good start.
He remarked, “As far as the Queensbridge community is concerned, I honestly feel my contribution standing out against these smokestacks will benefit future residents years, years after I'm gone.”
Gov. Hochul claims this clean energy initiative will create jobs. Local organizations are fighting to give Ravenswood jobs to NYCHA members who have been affected by the facility.
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.