Controversial Power Plant Would Float Near Luxury Units at Domino, Kedem, Oosten in ‘Burg

Satellite image via Google Maps. Collage by Barbara Eldredge


A controversial proposal to permanently install a floating power plant in the waters opposite Williamsburg — close to ultra-luxury complexes Domino, Oosten and Kedem Winery — has been revived by developer SEF Industries, and it’s already churning up local opposition.

The plan is to moor a six-story, 100-foot-wide and 230-foot-long floating electrical plant in the Wallabout Federal Navigation Channel south of Division Avenue. SEF argues that the natural gas-powered generator would add a level of resiliency to Brooklyn’s power grid in the event of an emergency — it’ll already be directly feeding the power grid, it holds three days’ worth of fuel, and it can also be conveniently refueled by boats from the water.

Williamsburg Floating Power Plant

Image via SEF Industries

It’s true that the plant would generate a significant amount of electricity — 79 megawatts — enough energy to power roughly 79,000 homes.

But that energy output also falls just below the 80-megawatt threshold that would trigger a lengthy state environmental approval process for the plant.

This isn’t the first attempt

SEF Industries first tried to get the natural gas-powered barge in place in 2001, according to Brooklyn Paper. But activist group Stop the Barge successfully halted the project on the grounds that the community hadn’t been given the opportunity to comment. The group then won a 2003 court case ruling that the developer hadn’t submitted a proper environmental impact review.

But in 2013, SEF Industries re-proposed the Wallabout generator barge and two others in response to an RFP (PDF) from the New York Highway Taskforce, writing that they had all the necessary permits and property interests in place. On March 31, the developer submitted a request to the US Army Corps of Engineers for the ability to install permanent mooring piles and a utility pipe for the generator in Wallabout Bay.

Opposition is building

The period for public comment to the US Army Corps of Engineers is nearly over, ending on April 30th.

Stop the Barge is already moving to block the latest proposal, arguing against its noise, pollution, and potentially view-blocking size — the same sort of criticisms leveled at the plan in 2001.

Tony neighbors

But what a different world it is now. Back in 2001, the Williamsburg waterfront had not yet been rezoned. The once-industrial area was undeveloped and semi-derelict, with many empty former factories and warehouses.

Now glassy luxury condo and rental towers dominate the waterfront in North Williamsburg. Further south, where this power plant would float, three super-luxurious and very large developments are in the works: the massive Domino redevelopment, former governor Eliot Spitzer’s Kedem Winery redevelopment, and the Dutch-designed The Oosten. The barge would also be located directly across from Williamsburg’s large Hasidic Satmar community, and not far from the ever-growing Navy Yard.

It’s possible that this time around those new and powerful real estate interests could potentially join the opposition to the power plant.

What do you think of the proposal?

Williamsburg Floating Power Plant

Image via SEF Industries

[Source: BK Paper]

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