SHARE is a coalition of community, faith, environmental justice and climate action groups whose mission is to stop the proposed Sheridan Hollow fossil fuel power plant that would burn fracked gas in two large turbines to generate both electricity and heat for the Empire State Plaza (accomplished!), and to redirect the state funds dedicated to this project toward a renewable energy solution (partially done!).
We began work in the summer of 2017 in response to a proposal by New York State agencies to build two new fracked gas turbines at the power plant on Sheridan Avenue in Albany. The project had statewide significance as the turbines and existing steam plant were proposed to heat, cool and power the Empire State Plaza, the complex of NYS government buildings in downtown Albany. Since Sheridan Hollow is a predominately Black and people of color neighborhood just blocks from the Capitol, the project was contrary to the state’s stated environmental justice policies. It proposed to burn fracked gas and pollute the neighborhood to benefit state government.
SHARE activism from 2017 to 2019 succeeded in blocking funding for gas turbines and redirecting it to be used for renewable energy. In September 2019 New York Power Authority and the Office of General Services announced plans that included dropping the proposal for gas turbines, replacing the obsolete and polluting emergency generators located in Sheridan Hollow, getting fifty percent of electricity from a solar farm, installing LED lights, and partially electrifying the air conditioning system of the Empire State Plaza buildings. Instead of building new fossil fuel infrastructure, the plan would reduce burning of fracked gas by 20%.
Much work remains to be done, however, to get the Plaza and Capitol to 100% renewables. SHARE is working with NYPA to promote the use of geothermal and other renewable sources of energy. This includes getting the heating system of the buildings and the remainder of the air conditioning converted to renewable energy, which will enable the phasing out of the gas-driven Sheridan Avenue Steam Plant. We are also advocating for getting the remaining fifty percent of electrical energy for the Plaza from renewable sources, as well as ensuring that the September 2019 plans are carried out.
If you would like more information or have any questions, please contact us.
Ruth Foster, SHARE Co-Chair
Merton Simpson, SHARE Co-Chair
Additional background information
In September 2017, SHARE delivered a letter to the Governor in response to the proposed siting of a co-generation fracked gas power plant in Albany’s Sheridan Hollow neighborhood, an environmental justice neighborhood. Our letter called for a full Environmental Impact Statement and for a Request for Proposals to power the Empire State Plaza with renewable energy.
A noted engineer, Jay Egg, published an article which explains why “it is reasonable to assume that geothermal heating and cooling can be accomplished at the Empire State Plaza.” This article presented a real, concrete solution that addressed the state’s need for power while not harming the climate and the neighborhood.
For two years, we engaged in a campaign of petitions, rallies, public meetings, press conferences and similar actions. We met numerous times with state legislators and succeeded in getting the budget item for the fracked gas turbines significantly amended to remove the authorization for a (gas) co-generation plant and to emphasize renewable energy. We prepared detailed critiques of NYPA’s late-2017 claim that renewables were not feasible for the Plaza plus discussions of renewable-energy alternatives. In July 2019 we issued a detailed science report which recapped and expanded on these critiques and discussions.
As noted above, in September 2019 these efforts resulted in a partial success. We are continuing to work toward fully realizing the goal of a renewable energy solution for the Empire State Plaza, which will permit shutting down the gas-fired Sheridan Avenue Steam Plant. Documents and articles related to past events can be found in the blog on the homepage of this web site.