A Long Island City waterfront landowner is trying to get lawmakers excited about turning his property into a “green energy” hub to power neighboring businesses — vowing to bring some spark back to the area after the plan to build an Amazon headquarters there fizzled out.
Bruce Teitelbaum, the general partner of RiverLinC, which owns the six-acre site at Vernon Boulevard 43rd Avenue, said he’s had preliminary discussions with city and state officials about building a plant there that could provide eco-friendly juice to others in the area — generated from river water, as well as via solar and geothermal energy.
“It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle why the city wouldn’t jump at the chance to support the first green energy district in New York,” Teitelbaum said, promising it would create “thousands of jobs” and help cut carbon emissions.
The $250 million project — dubbed River Green Power and abutting the land where the Amazon project was supposed to be built — could connect to the Queensbridge Houses to provide energy to the largest public housing complex in the country, he said.
Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang also has been briefed on the project, according to Teitelbaum, and the plan already has the backing of the Queens Chamber of Commerce — whose CEO called it “fantastic.”
“We’re still smarting over the loss of Amazon. All the reasons Amazon chose western Queens are still there,” said Queens chamber head Thomas Grech. “The Queens Chamber is all for it. I want innovation starting in Queens. The crossroads of energy independence and technology make a project like this feasible.”
The people behind the project claim it could reduce carbon emissions in the area by 70 percent when operational — and ultimately reach net zero.
No zoning changes are required to make it happen. The project could be built as of right now and would not have to go through the city’s lengthy Land Use Review Procedure.
But the project would need City Hall’s approval to connect the green power plant to Queensbridge Houses, which is part of NYCHA.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation would also have to provide permits to use water in the East River.
The organizers plan to create an ESCO — a for-profit energy service company — and raise money from investors to get off the ground.
Richard Humphries, business development manager for DTE, called it “an exciting opportunity to provide reliable, efficient green energy to customers.”
Teitelbaum, who served as chief of staff to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, insisted financing wouldn’t be an issue.
The New York State Power Authority and the NYS Energy and Research Development Authority provide grants to firms that open clean energy plants or convert from fossil-fuel energy to low-carbon/carbon-free energy. His firm would apply like any other, he said.
He also noted that President Biden and US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are pushing to pass a massive infrastructure program, and more federal dollars could be available for clean energy projects to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and curb global warming. Biden has said he’s willing to boost income taxes on the wealthy to pay for it.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is touting a $26 billion public-private green energy partnership to promote solar and wind power.
And Comptroller Scott Stringer and Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the city is divesting its pension funds from carbon-spewing fossil fuels.
Amazon withdrew its proposal to build a campus in Long Island City on Feb. 14, 2019, following strong opposition from local political leaders — including US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) — over $3 billion in tax breaks and other subsidies the city and state were providing the etail giant. Labor unions also opposed the project because Amazon is non-union.