On Dec. 16, scores of residents from the luxury living complex poured onto 16th Street and Avenue C as they strove to continue their fight against fossil fuel plants in their neighborhood.
Members of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenant Association are sending the governor and other city and state environmental officials their season’s pleas, telling the story of how they are being sandwiched between two fossil fuel plants, along with a batch of postcards from hundreds of residents objecting to the power plants being constructed.
“We have an early Christmas present. We have hundreds, upon hundreds, upon hundreds of postcards our tenants have signed protesting these plants,” said Susan Steinberg, president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenant Association, naming the holiday protest postcard recipients: Governor Kathy Hochul, Melanie La Rocca the Commissioner of the Department of Buildings, Basil Seggos the Commissioner of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Vincent Sapienza Commissioner of the Department of Environmental
Environmental advocates, tenants and local leaders joined elected officials in a rally outside of a fossil fuel plant on the corner of 16th Street, where the hulking structure sticks out like a metallic sore thumb between two apartment buildings, 245 and 271, overlooking Con Edison’s massive power plant.
“I can’t wait for them to open it! These are the agencies that have the authority to approve or deny permits for these plants. We want them and Governor Hochul to know how unhappy the community is [about the power plants,]” Steinberg said, adding, “Why is Blackstone trying to saddle us with two fossil fuel burning plants? They are so proud of their reputation for being green, but this is a blot because, as far as I’m concerned, the only thing green here is money. These plants are going to add pollution to an area that’s rated to have bad air quality. It’s going to negatively impact our health and the health of our neighbors.”
Since the plans were first unveiled in 2018, residents have argued that they will not only be sandwiched between three power stations, but the two latest constructs will burn natural gas, reduce air quality, and add harmful emissions. They charge Blackstone — the property management — for putting profits before their residents’ lives.
Steinberg also shared that this rally comes on the heels of a New York City Council vote to ban natural gas in new buildings, and she believes the plants are simply commercial facilities that benefit Blackstone over the residents.
When the plans were first announced, it was said that these facilities would combine both heat and power as a CHP plant, providing steam for 24 buildings throughout the residential complex. But members of the tenant association claim this is not the case, but rather a cost-effective method for Blackstone to save money on steam and the electricity generated will go back to Con Edison to use as necessary.
“This so-called combined heating plan or CHP is being sold as environmentally friendly. This is simply untrue. As a city, state, and nation we need to be moving away from these climate-killing technologies. Not doubling down on more investments in fossil fuel facilities like this one,” said Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, adding, “It’s absolutely outrageous. It’s one of the most outrageous acts I’ve seen in government.”
In attendance at the rally were Council Member Keith Powers, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Brad Holyman, and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein who have all voiced their concern and state that power plants do not belong in residential neighborhoods.
“We don’t want these plants in our neighborhood. We have a power plant that we can all see right across the street,” Councilmember Powers said, “I’m asking our management company, Blackstone, that I think have been good partners with us and have done a much better job than some of their predecessors, to be fair. Be a good partner with us. Don’t make us go to the city agencies. Listen to the community. Listen to your residents and constituents and pull the plans for the CHP and you could do it today before it goes to any city agency, any approval process, or make us fight.”
In response to the rally, a spokesperson for StuyTown & Peter Cooper Village released this statement:
“Beam Living is committed to making StuyTown more sustainable, and our combined heat and power (CHP) project is the next step towards that objective. Very simply, CHP is good for our community and good for our planet. It will allow us to supply our 30,000 residents’ heat and hot water – even during a power failure – while at the same time reducing global greenhouse emissions. Government energy experts recognize that CHP is the best next step on the sustainability journey for communities of our size. It has already proven its value in hospitals, university campuses, and other large buildings throughout NYC. We are working to bring this important energy-efficient and resilient technology here, and we will continue to keep the community informed.”
StuyTown & Peter Cooper Village representatives also cited Director Tom Bourgeois & Dr. Beka Kosanovic of the U.S. DOE’s NY/NJ Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership, who states, “CHP’s high efficiency and high annual capacity factor currently results in significant annual energy and CO2 emissions savings,” said Director Tom Bourgeois & Dr. Beka Kosanovic of the U.S. DOE’s NY/NJ Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership.