Con Edison’s massive New York steam system is in the process of undergoing a green conversion. For the last six months, Con Ed workers have been toiling away to retrofit a 111-year-old steam plant on East 74th St. from burning oil to natural gas, thereby cutting fossil fuel emissions by more than 40 percent. The hope is that the change will cut air pollution in the area while also saving money.
For years, the plant has been burning vast quantities of polluting number 6 fuel oil to provide steam for heating and hot water in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Recently, however, a 100-plus team of skilled Con Ed laborers made progress on the gargantuan task of replacing pipes piece by piece to convert three large tenement building-sized furnaces into natural gas burning steam producers.
The project is nearly complete, just in time for the colder fall months, to provide New York with a cleaner steam system. In the long run, the plant conversion will help clean up the air in uptown Manhattan as well as two other steam plants receiving the same natural gas conversion. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Con Ed project manager Jim Shannon said it was the equivalent of taking about 26,000 cars off the road.
Con Edison says the project at this plant and two other steam plants in Manhattan has been an $100 million investment, but the company expects it to pay dividends in the long run. The plant will burn cleaner with an 86 percent decrease in oil usage that will also create savings of $270 million over five years. Hopefully those savings get passed down to our energy bills.