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New York Power Authority Provides Funds To Keep Yonkers Science Barge Afloat

Maura Balaban

December 18, 2008


YONKERS—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel today presented the first of three annual contributions to the Science Barge, a floating environmental center and urban farm on the Yonkers waterfront.

Kessel was joined by Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone, Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick and other local officials in presenting the $75,000 check to representatives of Groundwork Hudson Valley, the nonprofit environmental advocacy group that acquired the barge this fall and will oversee its operation.

“This project is a great match for us,” said Kessel. “Given the Power Authority’s long standing commitment to the environment, clean energy and education, helping to finance this ambitious initiative to promote renewable energy is a unique opportunity. In the wake of dwindling funding from more conventional sources of support and drastic cuts to education budgets, our involvement with the Science Barge is also extremely timely. We hope our support will encourage other sponsors to come aboard.”

The Science Barge uses three renewable energy technologies – powered by the sun, wind and biofuels – to run pumps and fans in the greenhouse that occupies almost half of the vessel’s 135-foot-long deck. Vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, are grown through hydroponics—a method by which plants are cultivated in mineral-nutrient water instead of soil. Rainwater irrigates the plants to further demonstrate how the urban farmer can grow food in an energy-efficient and sustainable way.

“The arrival of the Science Barge to the Yonkers Waterfront will be a great addition to the educational and environmental facilities located along the Yonkers Waterfront,” said Mayor Amicone.  “Children and adults alike will now have the opportunity to gain direct access to the Hudson River and to learn about alternative energy sources while visiting our redeveloped Downtown, and without the private/public partnership that the New York Power Authority and Groundwork Yonkers have facilitated this would not have been possible.  I look forward to everyone taking advantage of this great resource now located in Yonkers.”

“Thanks in great part to the New York Power Authority and Richie Kessel’s support of the Science Barge, the City of Yonkers is well on its way to establishing itself as a center of environmental learning,” said Lesnick. “As soon as I heard about this fascinating project, I knew it belonged in our city—alongside the Hudson River Museum and the Beczak Environmental Education Center—and I knew that the New York Power Authority was the organization to help us realize that vision.”

The Science Barge, which dropped anchor at the newly refurbished Yonkers waterfront Nov. 17, is intended to function as an educational lab for both school children and adults interested in learning about hydroponics and renewable energy technologies. It was previously based at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, where in 2007 it hosted 3,000 school children and an equal number of adults in its outdoor classroom.

The barge was originally designed by New York Sun Works, Inc, a not-for-profit organization involved in showcasing sustainable engineering projects. Impressed by its educational possibilities, Groundwork Hudson Valley purchased the floating farm for $2 to become a novel Hudson River attraction. It will be open from the spring through the fall for school field trips and general-admission.

“Support from the New York Power Authority could not be more timely given proposed cuts this week to education throughout the state,” said Rick Magder, executive director of Groundwork Hudson Valley. “NYPA’s strong commitment to the program, using non taxpayer funds from power-generation revenues, ensures that the Science Barge will continue to teach thousands of school children each year about renewable energy, sustainable food production, and environmental engineering through a one-of-a-kind experience.”

About NYPA:

■    NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity.  ■    NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.  ■    It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

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