Publication: City & State
By: Thomas J. Grech
The demand for energy in Queens is surging greater than ever. We have the most robust inbound migration of next generation high tech companies building their futures and locating their workforces here. It is something we must encourage by continuing to maintain and build our vital infrastructure.
Slated to open this year, the Cornell Tech-Roosevelt Island Campus, accessible by bridge or subway from Long Island City, is putting the finishing touches on its state of the art facilities – research, academic space, hotel, housing – which will be one of the region’s great intellectual magnets for critical STEM research and development.
We also need energy for our vigorous manufacturing base and, of course, our airports, the“Gateways to the Nation.” LaGuardia’s in the midst of a four-billion-dollar restructuring, while JFK expects to double the passenger miles it handles within the next five to seven years.
Together, these crucial hubs host about 80 million passengers, employ nearly 50,000 people, and generate well over $50 billion in economic activity every year. They need power 24/7 and lots of it.
What do all of these developments have in common, besides representing the downstate employment economy of tomorrow? They are all intensive users of clean electricity.
Much of the electricity for Queens – and for half of New York City – is produced by over 50 facilities within the borough, whose generation comprises fully 10% of the power produced within the entire state of New York. Continual maintenance and frequent upgrades are vital to keeping these plants online. To coordinate with energy infrastructure in the rest of New York city and the state, we need a modern and effective transmission grid as well.
With the impending loss of 25 percent of New York City’s power supply via the closure of Indian Point Energy Center in 2021, and with the state mandate for increasing clean energy production, we are faced with having to soon make up for lost power generation and having to replace and exceed the plant’s entire current zero carbon emissions electricity supply. Indian Point’s total output is equivalent to power more than two million homes inside five boroughs.
As we are guided by Mayor de Blasio’s 2050 environmental playbook for a sustainable city, and Governor Cuomo’s state mandates for clean renewable energy, the mission to deliver clean energy has never been more urgent, for our city and for Queens. Considering that our borough is thriving in terms of tourism, tech, and manufacturing, international shipping and transportation and residential development, a strong and vibrant Queens is at the center of an economically robust New York City economy.