NEW YORK — Operating what is believed to be the world's first lunar-powered grocery store may win Gristedes some notoriety, but owner John Catsimatidis said he'll pull the plug unless he sees results on his energy bill.
“We're doing this because they say it will get us electricity cheaper,” said Catsimatidis, chief executive officer of Gristedes, whose Roosevelt Island store recently began receiving some of its electric power via tide-powered turbines submerged in the surrounding East River. “This idea that we're doing this to be environmentally friendly is a lot of B.S.,” he added. “Any businessman telling you the truth would tell you they do something like this only if it's feasible to get the power at the same price or cheaper.”
Catsimatidis said Gristedes “was in the right place at the right time” to be asked to become one of the first end-users of the innovative electricity project, described as kinetic hydropower by its implementer, Verdant Power of Arlington, Va. “If you're in Arizona, you can use the power of the sun. In Roosevelt Island, you use the current of the East River.”
Verdant, which began the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project in 2002, has installed six turbines, or underwater windmills, that are powered by the strong and predictable tidal flows of the East River. According to Trey Taylor, co-founder of Verdant, the project can generate “utility and village-scale electric power from natural and predictable river currents. The systems do not require water impoundments and use minimal civil works, virtually eliminating environmental impacts and regulatory costs.”