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Con Edison Takes a Big Step Toward a Greener Electric Grid

New York City

Electrification, green electric grid, solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, Climate Mobilization Act.
March 25, 2022

Electrification is the buzzword du jour. It refers to a future when fossil fuels have been abandoned and everything — from buildings to household appliances to transportation vehicles — is powered by electricity provided by renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric.

That future just got one step closer to reality with Con Edison's announcement that it is investing $800 million in transmission lines that will deliver large amounts of renewable energy in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, amNY reports. The transmission lines will also help the city phase out its so-called peaker power plants, which keep the lights on during periods of high energy demand but contribute to air pollution locally and climate change globally by burning fossil fuels. 

“The Reliable Clean City projects will connect communities in New York City’s outer boroughs to a supply of increasingly renewable electricity as the state harnesses its vast wind and solar energy potential,” said Milovan Blair, a senior vice president at Con Edison. “These projects will bolster the backbone of our electric grid as we prepare to deliver 100% clean power to our customers by 2040 and fulfill our recently expanded Clean Energy Commitment.”

This is welcome news to co-op and condo boards that are now scrambling to reduce their buildings' carbon emissions enough to satisfy the Climate Mobilization Act. Replacing oil- and gas-fired boilers with heat pumps and convection ovens fed by a green electric grid will be one way for boards to cut carbon emissions. 

The Con Edison projects will add an additional 900 megawatts of transmission capacity in areas that need it, facilitating the transition to a lower-carbon energy system. Over time, the projects will serve as “off ramps” for the delivery of renewable energy generated outside the city, whether from offshore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean, large-scale solar and wind projects upstate, or hydroelectric power from Canada.

Construction is currently under way in Queens, with workers installing an underground feeder that will run for six miles between a substation in western Astoria and another in Corona. The Queens Reliable Clean City project is expected to reach completion in 2023. Two other projects, connecting substations in Gowanus and Greenwood in Brooklyn and substations in Goethals and Fox Hills in Staten Island, are expected to be completed in 2025.

“Robust electric infrastructure is critical as the energy system evolves toward renewables and we become increasingly reliant on that clean energy to heat our homes and power our vehicles,” Blair said. “We are building a grid that will position New York as a global leader in clean energy and climate resiliency, while ensuring the benefits of that transition flow to all of our 3.5 million customers.”

Adds John Mandyck, chief executive at the Urban Green Council: “New York City’s electric grid is on the cusp of a clean energy transformation. Smart upgrades will unlock new renewable power, make the grid more resilient and help phase out the dirty peaker plants that pollute New York City’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.”

Finally, in addition to the transmission lines, Con Edison will be strengthening its distribution grid and paving the way for a major expansion of clean energy resources within New York City and Westchester County, including customer-owned solar panels, batteries and electric vehicle chargers.

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