Astoria Generating Station will convert to renewable energy

Will start powering homes in late 2020s

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]


Western Queens pols and community leaders packed into the gymnasium of the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens last week to celebrate a historic investment towards renewable energy.

At the Friday announcement, it was unveiled that the Astoria Generation Station located on 20th Ave. will be transformed into a converter station for renewable energy, named the Astoria Gateway for Renewable Energy. The new plant is estimated to power 1 million homes starting in the late 2020s with construction for the site predicted to begin in 2025, pending

The project will be completed by Beacon Wind,  which is a 50-50 partnership between energy provider Equinor and the gas company BP.

Former Astoria Councilman and current C.E.O of the VBGCQ, Costa Constantinides, noted the historical and personal ramifications that the high concentration of plants in the neighborhood, known as Asthma Alley, has had.

“My own son, I remember when he was young – having an asthma medication, a liquid, another medication. Then taking something to settle his stomach because  he just took all of that. Then he ate breakfast. Then he would have to put a nebulizer over his face. Not just when he was sick, that was just Tuesday,” Constantinides said.

Officials and activists rallied outside the power plant two years ago when the previous owner NRG wanted to convert the turbines into a natural gas based plant.

“First, I want to acknowledge the change this all around the hundreds of organizing volunteers who worked so hard to change the status quo to make this celebration, what it is today,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer who joined the protests and even testified in front of the Public Service Commission, the entity which regulates public utilities throughout the state.

“But we wanted to send a message for both this community and the entire state who were serious about the transition to clean energy,” he continued. “They [critics]were saying it’s a false choice between jobs and climate justice. Well that was bullshit.’

Schumer also noted in his speech that he wants to make Long Island, including the Brooklyn and Queens parts, the “offshore wind center of the county.”

“If we had listened to the words of NRG all those years ago or a day like today would never have happened,” said Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani, who represents parts of Astoria and participated in the protests against NRG. “This is a repudiation of the idea that fossil fuel executives should set the limits of possibility in Astoria. In New York City, in New York state and across this country.”

Equinor also announced a million dollar partnership through Beacon Wind to build a Technology and Media center along with a $750,000 over ten year commitment to help fund a Science and Technology program for youth at the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens. Morris said that the program aims to be a gateway for New York children to have opportunities to enter the renewable energy sector.

“ I’ve spent 68 years here in Astoria. And I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the difference when it comes to the air,” former Resident Association President and current Astoria Houses resident Claudia Croger said.

Croger said that when she moved into the neighborhood her seven kids didn’t suffer from asthma but that three of her grandchildren did due to the power plant’s effect on the local air quality.

“It gives me joy to know that change is coming,” she continued. “Our children will be able to live in clean air and breathe. And their parents will gain because they won’t have to pay copays out of the lunch money, their food money, or clothes money.”

Constantinides appointed to EDC board of directors

Former City Council member Costa Constantinides is the newest member of the Board of Directors of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), following his nomination by Borough President Donovan Richards.
The Astoria native brings more than a decade of experience working across government, education and nonprofit sectors, while continuing to be a friendly face at the Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens, serving as chief executive officer.
“As our city recovers from the pandemic, fights for a more just and fair economy, battles the effects of climate change and strives to become more sustainable, EDC is a critical agency in achieving a stronger city,” said Constantinides.
During his time in office, Constantinides spearheaded the effort to pass the Climate Mobilization Act, first-of-its kind legislation that pledges the city to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Constantinides will succeed Melva Miller, who will continue her work as the CEO for the Association for a Better New York. In March, Constantinides stepped down from his City Council position to take on the role as CEO of the Variety Boys and Girls Club.
“Costa Constantinides is a real King of Queens, always ensuring Queens has gotten our fair share throughout his career,” said Richards. “Costa’s track record clearly shows his devotion to Queens’ economic growth and success, which will continue as long as Costa has a seat at the table.”
Constantinides attended the Astoria schools of P.S. 84 and P.S.122 before graduating from William Cullen Bryant High School. He attended Queens College where he now teaches as an adjunct lecturer in both the Political Science and Urban Studies departments.
In 2010, he received his Juris Doctor from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law and was admitted to the bar in 2014.
“We are delighted to have Costa Constantinides join the NYCEDC Board representing Queens as we move forward helping build a recovery for all New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC president and CEO Rachel Loeb. “His role as CEO of the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens brings a unique perspective, helping us consider the needs of youth in our neighborhoods as we look for equitable solutions for all New Yorkers.”

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