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Stuyvesant Town cans plan to generate its own electricity and heat

BY KEITH J. KELLY | After local outcry, Blackstone is pulling the plug on two proposed fossil fuel-burning power plants within the spawling Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Village housing complex.

A coalition of local politicians and community activists had loudly objected, citing health and environmental concerns, when Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town unveiled plans for the combined heat and power (CHP) plants for the 80-acre complex.

City Councilmember Keith Powers spearheaded the opposition among the elected officials who objected.

The CHP plants were awaiting approval from regulatory authorities before they could go online.

Councilmember Powers was joined by Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, state Senator Brad Holyman, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and Borough President Mark Levine in announcing that Beam Living, which manages the sprawling East Side complex for the hedge fund owner Blackstone Group, had canceled the plans for the CHP plants.

Two sisters who are longtime residents of Stuyvesant Town, Rosemary, left, and Nadine McCarthy played on a giant chess board in a mini park that Beam Living erected after it began building the adjacent power plant. “I think they put the park here to distract people from the power plant,” Nadine said. (Photo by Keith J. Kelly)

Beam Living announced plans for the first power plant in 2018 between Nos. 245 and 271 Avenue C. Two years later, Blackstone/Beam announced plans for a bigger power plant to sited under a garage on E. 20th Street.

The cancellation drew praise from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, which had lobbied against the CHP plants for two years.

Beam Living currently buys heat and power from Con Edison and the CHP plan was seen as a way to hold down costs as energy prices spiral higher.

A view from Avenue C of the power plant that has already been constructed but was never put into service. (Photo Keith J. Kelly)

“This is a highly satisfactory resolution to an issue that concerned many residents,” said Susan Steinberg, president of the S.T.P.C.V. Tenants Association. “I am grateful to all who signed petitions and postcards and came to our rallies and to the cadre of hard-working tenants who formed our CHP strategy committee.

“I also want to acknowledge the effective support of our elected representatives,” she said. “In particular, I want to call out our Councilmember Keith Powers, whose nonstop negotiations with Blackstone resulted in their pulling the project. Finally, I want to acknowledge Blackstone for its willingness to recognize how critical this issue was for us and doing the right thing.”

A spokesperson for Beam Living said, “We always take our community’s feedback seriously and are pleased with the dialogue we have had about our collective commitment to making Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village more sustainable and resilient. We are proud of the progress we have made to date and remain committed to bringing resilient and green infrastructure to our community.”

While there was a huge backlash on this project, the spokesperson pointed out that other projects on the energy-saving front were well received, including installing solar panels on all 110 buildings in the complex.

He also pointed out that the U.S. Green Building Council designated Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village a LEED® Platinum Community for excellence in energy, water, waste, transportation and quality of life — which he said made it the first community in New York City to achieve this designation.

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