State Legislators Stand with Sheridan Hollow and Arbor Hill Residents in Opposing Fossil Fuel Powered Empire State Plaza

For Immediate Release: June 28, 2018

Contacts listed below.

State Legislators Stand with Sheridan Hollow and Arbor Hill Residents in Opposing Fossil Fuel Powered Empire State Plaza

Diverse cross-section of Senators and Assembly Members urge Governor Cuomo to power the State Capitol and Empire State Plaza with renewable energy

Albany – Today, the Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE), a coalition of renewable energy and environmental justice advocates, released two letters from a diverse cross-section of Senators and Assemblymembers that urge Governor Cuomo to use renewable energy to power the Empire State Plaza, not fossil fuels.

The Sheridan Avenue Steam Plant, which burns fracked gas and diesel fuel to heat and cool the State Capitol and Plaza, is located in Sheridan Hollow, a community of color in downtown Albany. The proposed power plant would be built next to the current plant and would burn even more fracked gas in the community in order to generate electricity and provide heating and cooling.

Due to SHARE’s pressure, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) indicated earlier this year that it would consider renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, but has not yet disclosed a new timeline or process for re-designing the project. NYPA also has not responded to SHARE’s request that a new request for proposal (RFP) be issued that would allow vendors to design and build a project that runs on renewables.

The Senate letter states, “We believe the Sheridan Hollow residents—and all New Yorkers—are owed an energy system powering the Capitol and Plaza that is a shining example of 100% renewable energy.”

The Assembly letter states, “Residents from the surrounding community have endured air pollutants from this plant for decades. About twenty-five years ago, the part of the facility that burned garbage was shuttered. It is time that we finish the job, end the health threat the plant poses, and switch to alternatives.”

"As a resident of the Sheridan Hollow community in Albany, I am outraged that the Governor has declared a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, yet wants to build a project in our community that relies on fracked gas," said Mert Simpson, who is co-chair of SHARE and is the Albany County Legislator for the 2nd district. "And this is in the same community that has suffered for years because of the former ANSWERS plant and currently operating Sheridan Avenue Steam Plant. It is essential that the state advances an alternative that truly lives up to the Governor's promise to fight climate change and erases environmental injustice."

"My family and I were negatively impacted from the gas emissions producing building on Sheridan Avenue in Albany," said Felicity Holman. "I moved in with my very young children:  6 years old, 2 years old, and a 2-month-old infant. Every night, my children were coughing throughout the entire night. Now that I am living in a new apartment, we are certainly sleeping a whole lot better and the air quality is so much better. It is wrong for Sheridan Avenue neighbors to have to live with gas emissions." 

"The Sheridan Avenue energy plant is located just a block from the Capitol. Residents from the surrounding community have endured air pollutants from this plant for decades. I believe the Sheridan Hollow residents—and all New Yorkers—are owed an energy system powering the Capitol that is a shining example of 100% renewable energy. This environmentally friendly project should set the example for others to follow throughout our state," Senator Neil Breslin (D-Albany) said.

“New York State has the opportunity to show true leadership in the way of clean energy by powering the Sheridan Avenue project with renewables. Lofty and important renewable energy goals have been set and this would complete a crucial piece of that puzzle. It is essential to chip away at our fossil fuel use one project at a time, and this is the perfect opportunity to do just that. By powering the Capitol with renewables, New York will lead by example and encourage others to follow the same path,” Assemblymember Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said.

“The Sheridan Avenue Power plant heating and cooling proposal presents a great opportunity to implement a renewable energy project that will set the example statewide and nationally. The goal of 100% renewable energy is within our grasp and I am appreciative of the efforts of SHARE as well as the Office of General Services (OGS) and the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) as we work collaboratively to improve the quality of life in Sheridan Hollow and beyond,” Assemblymember John McDonald III, (D-Cohoes) said.

"Senator Neil Breslin, Assemblymember and Environmental Conservation chair Steven Englebright, and their colleagues who have signed onto this letter of support deserve our thanks for their actions in championing renewable energy and safeguarding the health of Albany residents," said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York.

Earlier this year, SHARE convened a set of experts who demonstrated that heating and powering the Capitol and Empire State Plaza is possible with renewable energy. Prior to that SHARE was instrumental in successfully pushing for an environmental review of the Sheridan Avenue project.

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Merton Simpson, 518-253-3536, robcor295@cs.com
Ruth Foster, 518-588-0187, rmfoster@nycap.rr.com
Brian Keegan, 518-462-5526 ext 238, bkeegan@eany.org