New York state’s energy transition made an industrial leap forward today (Tuesday) with a plan to decommission the largest fossil fuel-powered generating station in New York City, a 2.48GW plant known as Big Allis, and its coming redevelopment as a centralised hub for renewable energy production and transmission.

Energy asset manager Rise Light & Power (Rise), owner of the plant, said it plans to redevelop the Ravenswood Generating Station as a new clean energy hub to help New York achieve its nation-leading climate goals, including having a state energy mix of 70% renewables by 2030.

If approved by federal, state, and city regulators, ‘Renewable Ravenswood’ would reposition the 2.48GW gas- and fuel oil-fired power plant, which first opened in the 1960s, and its 27-acre waterfront industrial site to serve as a central clean energy complex that would integrate a range of renewables, including offshore wind and upstate wind and solar, and channel the power directly into New York City’s grid.

“New York City has for too long relied almost exclusively on fossil fuels to power the city,” said Clint Plummer, CEO of Rise. “Rise’s vision for a Renewable Ravenswood will transform New York’s energy system and help the state achieve its ambitious climate targets.”

New York state is building out its renewable energy network with an eye on on meeting the mandates laid out in the 2019 Climate Law to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050 off 1990 baselines.

Ravenswood will continue to operate as a fossil fuel power plant as the transition plans wend through multiple approval processes which are expected to continue until nearly the end of the decade.

“New York has established nation-leading goals to tackle the climate crisis head-on, with rapid growth in renewables facilitating the energy transition,” said Paul Segal, CEO of LS Power, owner of Rise.

“A Renewable Ravenswood provides a coherent path for realising the city’s and state’s goals for rapid deployment of low-carbon energy resources, while ensuring continued energy security, affordability, and reliability as our economy transitions toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

Continuing an ongoing trend in the US northeast, the fossil fuel plant’s transmission infrastructure, including a 138kV line connected to the Vernon substation and a 345kV line connected to the Rainey substation, will be redeployed to serve New York City, via both offshore wind being developed off the coast of New York’s Long Island, as well as from the substantial renewable generation upstate.

The plan calls for retiring all three of the plant's 1960s-vintage fuel oil-fired steam turbine generators, 1.8GW of capacity, and deploying their capacity resource interconnection service (CRIS) rights for the renewables sector. Per the regulations of the New York Independent Systems Operator (Nyiso), Ravenswood would be entitled to up to 5.4GW of interconnection access.

The plant’s 250MW 2004-era gas-fired combined cycle plant will continue to operate to “as a vital asset” to ensure grid reliability “as we go through this transition”, Plummer said.

The state is currently developing over 4GW of offshore wind in multiple projects, and has set a target to procure as much as 4.2GW the third quarter this year on its way to meeting its 9GW of offshore wind by 2035 mandate, with longer term goals of as much as 20GW in the frame.

Rise has conducted extensive maritime surveys of potential export cable landing routes from the Atlantic Ocean all the way up the East River to the site, and is confident that they can install multiple high voltage direct current (HVDC) cables that would enable the site to be a point of interconnection for offshore wind, and is also planning on offering the site as a operations and maintenance hub.

“Offshore wind is going to be a big part of New York state and city meeting their renewable energy goals, but plugging that power into the grid is going to be a challenge,” CEO Plummer told Recharge. “Ravenswood is a solution to that.”

Onshore renewables will likewise form an integral component of the transition, and New York state regulators recently approved 25-year contracts with developers of two transmission projects, the Champlain Hudson Power Express and Clear Path New York, that will deliver 18TWh of renewable energy a year to New York City, enabling it to cut reliance on fossil fuels for power generation by 50% by 2030.

Rise anticipates that Ravenswood could easily accept 1GW of power from upstate renewable sources and 2GW-3GW of offshore wind power.

New York City has its own climate goals which are even more aggressive than the state targets, including 100% clean electricity for metropolitan government operations and 500MW of energy storage citywide by 2025 and 1GW solar installed citywide by 2030.

The site will also deploy large scale energy storage systems and Rise promises to repurpose the plant’s river intake system to provide zero-emissions thermal heating and cooling to up to 15,000 nearby residences.

Transitioning the power plant away from fossil fuels and towards renewables likewise advances the state's commitment to environmental justice by closing plants near to disadvantaged communities and retaining and creating large numbers of well-paying union jobs.

The plant employs some 100 union workers who will continue to work at the plant as the energy transition plans mature and have been offered retraining for the offshore wind sector.

“The union employees that have proudly run Ravenswood for years will continue to do so,” said Jim Shillitto, president of utility workers of America local 1-2. “We applaud Rise for recognizing the valuable expertise of our workers and for helping to ready them for jobs in the growing clean energy industry.”

Rise plans to file the first of many formal plans and detailed applications with multiple federal, state, and New York City regulators and authorities later this year. Each of Renewable Ravenswood’s programs are subject to a number of regulatory approvals, and further details will be made available in the coming months.