New York becomes clean energy leader

Last Tuesday , New York State took another major step in its efforts to become a global clean energy leader. After a vote by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to implement New York’s Clean Energy Standard (CES), New York State is now mandated to meet Governor Cuomo’s goal of generating 50% of the state’s energy through renewable sources by 2030.

The Clean Energy Standard will:

  • *Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and prevent “backsliding” in the progress made by maintaining nuclear power plants while the state transitions to renewable energy
  • *Strengthen the electric fuel diversity throughout the state
  • *Place New York as a leader of the global effort to combat climate change

The primary vehicle to achieving this goal will be a requirement for utilities and energy suppliers to acquire a certain number of Renewable Energy Credits each year, providing financing for new renewable sources added to the grid. This will attract private investment to New York, potentially bringing in billions of dollars to the state’s energy infrastructure.

Benchmarks along the way include starting off 2017 at approximately 26% of the state being powered by renewable sources, with an expectation that this number will rise to roughly 31% by 2021.  Increasing renewable sources will only advance the agenda on meeting greenhouse gas reductions of “40 by 2030” leading up to the landmark “80 by 2050”.  Tied into the major advances this will make for the residents of New York, this will also not be a cost burden, averaging around $2 per month per the typical residential household.

Tied into this are several other PSC requirements including: purchasing 100% clean energy; promoting and supporting the maximization of energy efficiency; advancing offshore wind energy; making necessary investments in the storage, transmission, and other technologies to ensure that we have a reliable clean energy system; and requiring triennial reviews of the Clean Energy Standard.

In order to make this a reality, the CES will allow for subsidies to nuclear power plants in upstate New York, using them as a low-carbon bridge technology until large scale renewable energy generation sources can be built and come online.  When questioned, Public Service Commission Chairwoman, Audrey Zibelman responded, “We could not possibly replace those nuclear units if they were to be shut.”  Nuclear energy currently makes up approximately 30% of New York’s electricity generation.

The plan is not only good news for fighting climate change and improving our air quality in New York, it will also benefit the state’s economy, and our workforce.  Building an offshore wind-farm off the coast of Long Island, and constructing and installing new renewable energy generation systems will create thousands of new, high quality jobs across the state.