Sunset Park’s future is in the wind, activists say

October 30, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Sunset Park’s future is in the wind, activists say
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Several local activists are asking the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to invest in port infrastructure improvements to make Sunset Park’s industrial waterfront into an offshore wind energy hub, specifically at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal.

The proponents, the best-known of which is the local environmental organization UPROSE, believe the plan would generate many green industry jobs and help the state get to a zero-carbon future.

They also say that the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) is the only site in the state that is suitable for assembly and transport of offshore wind turbines without the long-term reconstruction that other sites would require. At other sites, massive work would be needed in order to accommodate the vessel depth and the large footprint that are needed to assemble the turbines’ massive component parts.

Ebrooklyn media/file photos by Jaime DeJesus

The SBMT already contains the city’s only commercial wind turbine, built by Sims Municipal Recycling for its recycling center there. It started operation in 2015 and it has the capacity to produce 100 kilowatts, according to the company’s website.

In May 2018, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and local leaders announced plans to reactivate the SBMT, which is partially unused, as a major shipping hub, along with the Red Hook Container Terminal and Industry City.

“Tens of thousands of truck trips that would otherwise be going over our bridges out to New Jersey and back over from New Jersey and Connecticut will instead be coming via our waterfront, which is cleaner for everyone and good for our economy. We’ll have hundreds of good-paying jobs right here on this pier,” James Patchett, president and CEO of NYCEDC, said at the time.

The environmental activists said that a $200 million investment towards port upgrading would make the industrial waterfront the hub of the offshore wind industry for New York.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE, stated that offshore wind is a necessary part of implementing a frontline-led Green New Deal and Green Resilient Infrastructure District in Sunset Park.

“Sunset Park has three peaker power plants, and for decades our lungs have been the reluctant hosts of toxic emissions from the polluting fossil fuel economy,” she said. “We are calling on NYSERDA to move funding to Sunset Park’s South Brooklyn Marine Terminal to transform our industrial waterfront into a regional clean energy hub.”

She added that funding for offshore wind at SBMT will support implementation of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) requires that 70 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2030 and mandates that at least 35 percent of benefits from the law go to frontline communities. New York State is working to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy in the next 15 years.

Leslie Cagan, coordinator of the People’s Climate Movement-NY, complimented the work of UPROSE

“The South Brooklyn Marine Terminal should be the location for assembling offshore wind turbines for Phase One of NY’s offshore wind program,” she said. “This will open up future supply-chain investments in Brooklyn and the New York Metropolitan Area as more offshore wind developments are built. And that means manufacturing jobs and a green reindustrialization for the city’s largest maritime industrial area.”

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