Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently proposed Green New Deal would mandate that New York be powered 100% by carbon-free electricity by 2040 and be carbon neutral as soon as possible, making the state a national leader in the fight against climate change. The Green New Deal is part of a broader movement across the country, spearheaded by the United States Climate Alliance, made up of states tackling global warming in response to the federal government’s inaction on climate change.
To make the 2040 deadline, the Green New Deal is accelerating existing plans for moving the state to clean energy. New York had set a goal of getting 50% of its power from clean energy sources by 2030; the Green New Deal has raised that to 70%. Specifically, the state will increase its targets for offshore wind power to 9,000 megawatts (MW) by 2035, which quadruples the previous goal of 2,400 by 2030; increase the distributed solar energy target to 6,000 MW by 2025, up from 3,000 by 2023; and deploy 3,000 MW of energy storage by 2030.
These initiatives will be funded in part through $1.5 billion in competitive awards for 20 large-scale solar, wind energy and storage projects across New York. The projects will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, power nearly 550,000 homes, and create over 2,600 jobs. Combined with the renewable energy projects previously announced under the Clean Energy Standard, New York has now awarded 46 projects worth more than $2.9 billion.
To capitalize on the growth of offshore wind, the Green New Deal also includes new investments to jumpstart New York’s role in the offshore wind energy industry and puts up to $200 million in port infrastructure. It would develop a clean-tech workforce by creating a New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development, as well as investing in an offshore wind training center.
The Green New Deal would also create a statutory Climate Action Council. The heads of relevant state agencies, as well as workforce, environmental justice, and clean energy experts, would sit on the council and lay out ways to achieve a carbon-neutral economy. The Council would examine successful multi-state approaches to drive transformational investment in clean energy including the U.S. Climate Alliance and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort by Northeastern states to reduce emissions.
Cuomo’s plan calls for a two-part “just transition”. First, it would help environmental justice communities by codifying the Environmental Justice and Just Transition Working Group into law. The group is made up of environmental justice and community leaders from across New York State, as well as health and labor advocates who advise the administration on developing policies and programs to ensure a just transition to a green and clean energy future. It would also direct the state’s low-income energy task force to identify reforms to increase the effectiveness of funding and initiatives designed to bring energy affordability to underserved communities.
At the same time, the Green New Deal would help communities that lose jobs and property tax values as conventional power facilities close. To do this, the administration introduced legislation to finance the state’s $70 million Property Tax Compensation Fund to continue helping communities directly affected by the transition away from dirty and obsolete energy industries and toward the new clean energy economy.
The proposed Green New Deal would make New York a national leader in the fight against climate change, and NYLCV will fight for passage of a bold climate bill in this year’s budget and implementation for years to come.