But it seems the first steps are already being taken at New York’s Ravenswood Generating Station, where for the first time in the U.S., unionized workers are transitioning from oil and gas to offshore wind. Currently, Ravenswood, which is located outside of Queens, generates 2,480 megawatts of power — enough to generate 20% of the electricity for New York City using oil and natural gas. The plant is planning to replace 1,400 megawatts with offshore wind power.
A collaboration between the plant’s owners, Attentive Energy One (AE1), and Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 (UWUA Local 1-2) will allow the plant’s workers to receive training in how to operate and maintain the offshore wind operation, which has the potential to generate upward of 3 gigawatts of power at peak efficiency.
In 2019, it was estimated that coal plants alone employed nearly 80,000 people, and there were about 250 plants in a 2022 study. The 2022 study showed it would increase costs by $83 billion across the United States to locate renewable power like solar and wind plants near retiring coal plants.
This figure isn’t as big as it seems, though — at least compared to the other costs of transitioning to a decarbonized power grid.
“These costs are significant in isolation but are small relative to annual U.S. power investments of $70 billion and to the total costs of transitioning the U.S. energy system away from fossil fuels, which have been estimated to be as high as $900 billion by 2030,” Michael Craig, the study’s senior author, said in a statement.
Yet, the new training program and transition happening at Ravenswood is a tangible glimmer of hope — and proof that a transition is possible for workers.
“[T]his agreement between Attentive Energy One and Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2 not only ensures the Ravenswood Generating Station transitions into a hub of renewable energy, but also becomes a model of how to empower the existing workforce amidst that transition,” Donovan Richards Jr., the union president for Queens, said in an interview with Electrek.
Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.