It’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic so far this year, but Mother Nature walloped Puerto Rico with a Category 1 hurricane that caused island-wide blackouts on Sunday. As in 2017, organizations are working to send solar equipment and technical expertise (and Solar One is participating in those efforts; see details below), there are things that individuals can do to help.
The four red and white smokestacks that loom over the western edge of Queens are a familiar sight to New Yorkers, but a plan to convert the Ravenswood Generating station to 100% renewables could mean that their days of spewing smoke are coming to an end.
Ravenswood currently supplies about 20% of NYC’s electricity by burning natural gas and oil, running four large generator, the largest of which is nicknamed Big Allis. As Solar One got to see on a field trip there many years ago, the amount of fuel required to keep the turbines spinning at Ravenswood is awe-inspriing…and terrifying. It also contributes to some of the worst air quality in town; child asthma rates in the three NYCHA housing developments that surround the plant are significantly higher than in the rest of Queens.
Its emissions are also at odds with New York’s ambitious climate goals, which is why the current owner, Rise, Light and Power, is working on a plan to convert to zero-emissions, 100% renewable generation.
At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Environmental Protection Agency did not have the authority to mandate emissions from power plants in West Virginia v. EPA. This decision has been widely seen as a blow to the country’s ability to meet its climate goals, which would also give other countries an excuse not to meet their own.
But now some states are responding by introducing climate amendments to their constitutions, enshrining the right to a clean and healthy environment in their own Bills of Rights.
The U.S. Senate’s passage this past Sunday of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the single most important act by the U.S. Government ever to combat climate change. While the total package is $740 billion, approximately $375 billion will go to efforts to fight climate change, and experts believe it will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2005 emission levels by 2030.
We at Solar One applaud our Senator, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Congress, and President Biden for this historic legislation; this truly represents a down payment on a livable planet that we will leave to our children and grandchildren. We also applaud the activists, advocates and policy staff who worked tirelessly, both in the streets and behind the scenes, to bring us this victory, and our City and State leaders who helped create the blueprint for the best ideas that were included in the IRA.
There is so much work still to be done and not much time. We will continue to do our part to deploy renewable energy to every corner of every community in New York City through our Here Comes Solar program. We will help train the green workforce necessary to rise to this existential challenge through our stellar and ever growing Green Workforce program. And we will educate the next generation to become the climate leaders and environmental stewards through our award-winning Green Design Lab K-12 program. Our Solar One program participants gain the skills, knowledge, and vision to take action against the impacts of climate change. It’s these passionate allies we will rely on to save the Earth.
We could not be prouder to help fight the good fight and we are grateful for this historic investment. Today the future is looking brighter.
Stuy Cove Park was designated as a Monarch Way Station more than a decade ago, and we’ve had as many as four native milkweeds growing in the park at a time. These amazing pollinators, which famously undertake an epic migration from Canada to Mexico each year, have been seeing their numbers drastically decline as over the past 30 years or so.
Now the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has placed the North American Monarch, on its list of endangered species. IUCN is considered the world’s most authoritative wildlife monitoring organization.
However, while the future of this wonderful creature is uncertain, it is far from hopeless, and unlike the conservation of more exotic species, there’s a lot that ordinary people can do to help restore Monarch butterfly populations before it’s too late.