Safety & Environment
Remediation and Reuse of Former Utility Property
Enabling the Responsible Remediation, Repurposing and Redevelopment of Former Utility Facilities and Real Properties
Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (CECONY) and Orange & Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R) (collectively and individually referred to as the “Company” below) formerly owned, own, or manage numerous real properties in the greater New York City area. Among these are former electric generation and distribution facilities and former Manufactured Gas Plants (MGPs), that were operated as early as the mid-1800s until the mid-twentieth century to convert coal to gas for lighting, cooking, and other uses prior to the widespread use of electricity and the advent of natural gas pipelines. Due to changes in generation technology, demand, and user distribution, a facility may need to be relocated, consolidated with other operations, or retired. Properties that have been consolidated or are no longer serving a utility function are available either for re-use for another utility function within the Company or become surplus. Surplus property is available to be divested so that it can serve a new productive function in the community in which it is located. Many former properties, particularly the former MGPs, were divested decades ago prior to the modern era of environmental cleanup standards and regulations.
These owned or formerly-owned utility properties are investigated and remediated as necessary by a dedicated staff of scientists, engineers, and technical experts (the Remediation Group), that has been in place since the early 1990s. The work performed by the Remediation Group has matured into a comprehensive Site Investigation and Remediation (SIR) program that includes a community outreach program. The SIR program staff lead the Company’s efforts to investigate these sites for the presence of historic operations impacts, and if necessary, undertake remediation, as applicable, in close coordination with federal, state, and local regulators. The Company develops comprehensive work plans to complete investigations and remediation in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and cleanup standards. Where possible, we seek to coordinate activities with third-party redevelopment plans to achieve efficient remedies that repurpose the sites for productive use.
To prepare for the sale of real property that is owned by the Company but no longer needed, the Company performs certain activities, including an environmental assessment or investigation, the implementation of remedial action if deemed necessary, and ultimately, formal reclassification to “non-utility” status. The environmental assessment is typically conducted by our SIR program staff and follows a multi-step process. Initially, data and information are obtained about the history of a property prior to ownership and during the Company’s development and operations on the property. Due to the long industrial history of these parcels, the next stage of assessment entails site investigation and serves to determine the current environmental conditions. The findings from the assessment or investigation are used to determine what, if any, remedial action may be necessary to render the property suitable for sale. These determinations are made based on the intended future use of the property and applicable regulatory requirements.
Reclassification, Sale and Redevelopment Case Study: Former Kent Avenue Generating Station
An example of reclassifying and selling a property for redevelopment is the parcel at 500 Kent Avenue located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY. The parcel consisted of a single tax lot that covers approximately 2.65 acres and included approximately 600 linear feet of waterfront. The property housed power generating facilities dating back to 1906 and, after its acquisition in 1962, CECONY continued to use it for this purpose. By 1999, electric generation operations ceased, and the property was reclassified as non-utility. Subsequently, CECONY commenced demolition of the generating station structures and performed an initial site investigation.
By 2009, CECONY had completed demolition of all the building structures and environmental investigations at the property. In 2010, in response to the detection of residues from a former MGP that operated on the southern portion of the property between 1873 and around 1935 (when it was owned by another utility), CECONY amended its 2002 Voluntary Cleanup Agreement (VCA) with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (the DEC) to include the investigation and remediation of the Kent Avenue property. CECONY completed remediation of the property in accordance with the terms of the VCA in February 2014. The DEC issued a No Further Action determination in April 2015, acknowledging that the property could be returned “to productive use of benefit to the entire community.” CECONY then put the property up for sale.
After identifying a prospective purchaser, and pursuant to Section 70 of the New York Public Service Law, CECONY filed a request for authorization from the New York State Public Service Commission (the PSC) to finalize the sale and transfer the property. The PSC granted the authorization and in 2019 CECONY sold the Kent Avenue property, making it available for commercial use and a contributing resource for economic development of the Brooklyn waterfront.