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Clean Energy Hub to Replace Former Fossil Fuel Plant in Astoria

The location of the former Poletti Power Plant site in Astoria that will be home to a battery storage facility (GMaps)

July 19, 2021 Staff Report

State energy regulators gave Con Edison and partner 174 Power Global approval last week to place a large battery system at the site of a former fossil fuel plant near the East River in Astoria.

The approval by the New York State Public Service Commission is an important step in the development of the East River Energy Storage System on land where the Charles Poletti power plant was located on 20th Avenue.

The system will be able to store and discharge 100 megawatts, or 100 million watts, of electricity—the equivalent of about 100,000 hair dryers or as many as 1 million desktop computers.

The system will be able to store enough electricity to power the World Trade Center for about a day.

“Battery storage is essential to our quest to create a clean energy future and prevail against climate change,” said Leonard Singh, senior vice president, Customer Energy Solutions, for Con Edison.

“Bulk storage will let us bring large amounts of renewable energy to our customers without compromising our industry-leading reliability, even as fossil fuel generators in New York City are shuttered into retirement.”

Batteries make it possible to store energy created by renewable resources and provide that energy to customers when needed. Utility-scale battery storage, according to Con Edison, will grow in importance with the planned addition of large amounts of renewable energy in New York State, including 9,000 megawatts from offshore wind turbines.

“Energy storage technology has emerged as an essential component of the energy landscape and the proliferation of energy storage projects in New York is critical to meeting the state’s ambitious climate change goals,” said 174 Power Global president and CEO, Henry Yun. “We are pleased to receive approval from the PSC and are one step closer to bringing clean power, as well as other regional electricity and economic benefits, to the Astoria community and state.”

The Charles Poletti power plant site, which was closed by NYPA at the end of 2010, was viewed at the time as one of the state’s biggest polluters largely due to the toxic type of oil it burned.

“The PSC’s approval of this adaptive reuse project on NYPA’s site in Astoria is a big win for New York State and specifically the Queens community, and demonstrates an important step towards achieving our ambitious clean energy goals,” said Gil Quinones, NYPA president and CEO. “Large-scale battery storage provides the opportunity for greater flexibility and resiliency of the electric grid and will support the growth of renewable energy for decades to come.”

Battery technology is an important part of the New York State and New York City environmental plans. Con Edison seeks to offer customers 100 percent clean power by 2040.

174 Power Global, which specializes in renewable energy projects and is owned by Hanwha Energy Corp. of South Korea, will build the battery system by the end of 2022 and own it.

The batteries will draw power from the grid at times when the demand for power is low and less expensive. They will discharge that power at times when the demand for power is high, decreasing the need for power from fossil fuel-fired plants.

The companies have a seven-year contract under which Con Edison will bid power from the battery system into the state’s wholesale market. At the end of the contract, 174 Power Global will dispatch the power into the state’s bulk power transmission system.

The batteries will be in containers and produce no emissions and little noise at the industrial site.

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