How does New York get its Power?

April 5, 2021
In February, Texas encountered an energy crisis involving mass utilities failure. Power outages resulted in water and food shortages and dangerous weather conditions.

How can we understand our state’s power grid? Where do our households get electricity?

New York has one of the most energy-efficient economies in the nation, and New Yorkers consume less total energy per capita than the residents of any other state except one. This results in part from the wide use of mass transportation in NYC. Nearly 60 percent of the state’s electricity is consumed in the NYC area. Hundreds of mostly privately owned power plants supply power. Natural gas, nuclear power, and hydroelectricity together have provided more than 90% of New York State’s electricity net generation since 2012. The source of power in NYC can be broken down as:
  • Natural Gas 44%
  • Nuclear 31%
  • Hydro 19%
  • Wind 3%
  • Coal 1%
  • Solar < 1%
New York has wider access to a diversity of resources in comparison to other states.

NYC's electricity is expensive.

New York State had the ninth-highest residential prices for electricity in the United States.
  • New York State - 18.28 cents/kilowatt-hour
  • California - 13.94 cents/kilowatt-hour
  • Georgia - 11.07 cents/kilowatt-hour
  • New York City - 24.736 cents/kilowatt-hour (Con Ed rates)
The above data is as of April 6, 2021.

What am I paying for each month?

  • SUPPLY: 30%-50%. This is how much our provider paid for the electricity. Like all commodities, price fluctuates with demand. For example, electricity is cheaper at night and more expensive in the summer.
  • TRANSMISSION & DELIVERY: Maintenance and upgrades for power companies.
  • TAXES & FEES: 30%. This includes power companies’ property, sales and state taxes.

Of NY State’s Electricity

  • …4
    nuclear plants
    account for 1/3rd. Nuclear waste disposal remains a concern, but the state wants to subsidize them because of the carbon-free power they offer.
  • …180
    hydroelectric
    facilities produce almost 1/5th. These are crucial for our clean power production. The Niagara River makes the state a leading producer.

Do we still use fossil fuels?

Fossil fuels are coal, crude oil, and natural gas, with a high carbon content, that take an enormous toll on the environment. 64 plants that use natural gas produce almost 1/2 of NY State’s electricity. Coal is on the way out. The state has announced plans to close the remaining plants or convert them to natural gas, which is currently cheap and plentiful. Though New Yorkers consume less fossil fuels per capita than residents of any other state in the nation, New York is still the fifth-largest consumer of them.

Northern Astoria is home to 4 generating plants. Astoria generates nearly half of the power used by New York City. This power comes from burning fossil fuels, which pollute the air, create “Asthma Alleys”and spread health issues. Astoria has some of the worst air quality, asthma rates, and COVID death rates in NYC. One plant, NRG's Astoria Generating Station, is aiming to open a new plant, which would still rely on fossil fuels and would continue to emit dangerous pollutants. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation will make the final decision as to whether the proposal is approved.

What’s next?

New York's Clean Energy Standard requires 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) calls for 70% of the state’s electricity from renewables by 2030. 29% of New York's in-state generation comes from renewable sources now.
If you ever experience a power outage or blackout, and are a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) resident, you can report it, and file a claim to be reimbursed for spoiled food. Call NYCHA's Maintenance Hotline at (718) 707-7771.

If you’d like to get further involved with green energy initiatives, explore the groups below that are organizing around this in our community. You may also align with these organizations to express opposition to NRG’s new generating station, which would be reliant on fossil fuels, in Northwest Astoria.
  • Justice for All Coalition is working in coalition with groups citywide to fight for a greener NYCHA in general as well, by way of organizing around the GND for public housing. Maybe mentioning us in this capacity is helpful here? more info at gnd4ph.com, if another resource would be helpful." (347) 531-8339
  • Sunrise Movement Is demanding that our government guarantee a good job building a just, sustainable and people-centered economy to anyone who wants one. sunrisemovement.org
  • The New York City Democratic Socialists of America believes our current energy system leaves us poor, sick, and under constant threat of shut-offs. This is unacceptable, and as climate change accelerates and the Green New Deal takes off, we must come together now to demand renewable energy as a human right! Check out https://publicpower.nyc/ for more details.

Map of Generating Stations and Asthma Hospitilization Rates, as of 2018

The following map shows the locations of our neighborhood’s generating stations, and the rates of asthma hospitalizations in 2018. Northern Astoria is home to 4 generating plants, and Long Island City has the city’s largest power plant, The Ravenswood Generating Company. Astoria generates nearly half of the power used by New York City. This power comes from burning fossil fuels, which pollute the air, create “Asthma Alleys,” and spread health issues. Astoria has some of the worst air quality, asthma rates, and COVID death rates in NYC. View Map

Asthma Alley - Short Film

Sources