Consolidated Edison East 74th Street Station
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The Manhattan Elevated Railway Company began construction of the East 74th Street Power Station in 1899 with the purpose of supplying electricity to several elevated railroads that were in the process of being converted from steam power to electric.
Con Ed took over the power plant in 1959 and continued to supply power to the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) — operator of New York City’s original subway line — for a number of years. Today, the East 74th Street Station supplies Con Edison’s steam distribution system, which provides steam to Manhattan buildings for heating, cooling, and hot water. It is the largest commercial steam system in the world.
In an effort to cut uptown fossil fuel emissions, Con Ed recently undertook a greening project that will convert the 74th Street plant and another Con Ed steam plant on West 59th Street from fuel oil to natural gas. The work at 74th Street entails cutting out the facility’s nine boilers — three the size of a large tenement building and six more the size of a VW beetle — upgrading them, and then reinstalling them. Miles of new piping must also be replaced by hand.
While the upgraded facilities will still use fuel oil as a backup, the primary use of natural gas to fire boilers and produce steam is expected to cut emissions by 40 percent — the equivalent of taking 26,000 cars off the streets.
Have you been diagnosed with an asbestos disease after working in a power plant?
- IEEE: The Railway Power Stations of New York City
- Daily News: Conversion of ConEd Steam Plants in Manhattan Will Save Money and Clear the Air