UPDATE: Blackstone Withdraws Permits for Natural Gas CHP Plants in ST; Makes End Run Around State Pollution Regulations
Blackstone has withdrawn its permit requests for the fossil fuel power plants in Stuyvesant Town, according to Basil Seggos, the state’s commissioner of Environmental Conservation. Instead, Blackstone is planning to submit new permit requests for lower emissions just below the DEC threshold. As a result, the plants would not need state permits and would avoid the DEC permitting process.
Seggos’s comments were made during an exchange with State Senator Brad Hoylman at a legislative budget hearing on February 1, 2022. Blackstone pulled its application at the end of November 2021.
Instead of a full state review, the power plants would be subject to the CEQR (“seeker”) process, or City Environmental Quality Review. CEQR disclosure would still need to be in compliance with state standards for an environmental review and would provide for public participation.
Seggos indicated to Hoylman that he would send a letter explaining the change in Blackstone’s strategy, but as of this date, the letter has not been received.
STATUS OF THE TWO PLANTS
CHP 1: Avenue C
Due to the efforts of the Tenants Association, tenants, and our elected representatives, the plant, although built, is not operational. It needs the necessary permits, environmental studies, and community review and input.
CHP 2: 20th Street, under Garage 1
Blackstone’s plan was to use this much larger plant to generate electricity to export to Con Ed for the remainder of ST and for PCV. But PCV is on a different city lot from ST, and the electricity and steam cannot be allocated across lots. We don’t know whether Blackstone (1) intends to build a plant with the same capacity as originally planned and generate excess electricity to export to Con Ed (“peaker plant”), (2) scale down the plant, (3) construct a separate plant in PCV, or (4) something else.
CITY AND STATE POLLUTION REDUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS
Both the city and state have announced ambitious goals for reducing pollution.
Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA): this state law sets a “goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. The state remains focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities.” The Stuyvesant Town plants would add pollution to that from the massive 14th Street Con Ed plant and affect NYCHA developments south of 14th Street and north of 23rd Street.
OneNYC 2050 is the city’s strategy “to confront our climate crisis, achieve equity, and strengthen our democracy.”
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