New York Labor, Business, and Environmental Organizations Respond With Dismay to the Public Service Commission’s Decision to Deny Price Adjustments for Renewable Energy Projects

PSC Decision Will Cause Delays in Renewable Energy Development, Higher Costs to Ratepayers, Negative Public Health Consequences, and Lost Job Opportunities.

New York State’s Public Service Commission (PSC) voted today to deny price adjustments critical to the feasibility of renewable energy construction projects. By denying the adjustment, New Yorkers bear the brunt of the decision as disruption, delays, and uncertainty will leave New Yorkers with no choice but to continue to rely on unpredictable fossil fuels.

New York made a commitment with its climate goals and further committed to New Yorkers that it would be bold in accomplishing those goals. While 86 land-based projects and five offshore wind projects have been approved, unforeseen economic challenges – from the rising costs of materials like solar panels, turbines, and concrete to broader global macroeconomic factors – are threatening their viability. Delays or cancellations of these projects, which we are likely to see following the PSC’s decision today, will set back New York’s transition to clean energy and the jobs, cost-savings, and improved air quality that come with it.

New York’s labor, business, and environmental organizations have united to express dismay over this decision and request that the administration act quickly to minimize the damage and find other ways to facilitate vital wind, offshore wind, and solar energy projects throughout the state, particularly ones that will support a union workforce, pay prevailing wages, and utilize project labor agreements.

The Public Service Commission’s decision is devastating for the offshore wind industry in New York and beyond, as well as harmful to the buildout of terrestrial renewable projects and detrimental to our goals for getting off fossil fuels. This decision means that some projects will be delayed, some might never even be built, and New Yorkers across the state will suffer because of it,” said Julie Tighe, President of the League of Conservation Voters. In total, the project developers were asking for an increase that would lead to a nominal impact on utility bills. That investment would bring a sustainable, clean energy source to our region that over the long term would decrease utility bills and bring cleaner air and positive health outcomes for the entire state. This was a short-sighted decision that will lead to continued reliance on toxic, climate change-causing fossil fuels. It is incumbent on this Administration to figure out how we transition to a clean energy economy and meet our climate goals.

For years we have been selling a vision to our members: that the natural gas work they had relied on to feed their families would no longer be available, but it would be replaced by projects in the clean energy economy. Instead of connecting gas lines, they would be building turbines. They were skeptical, but we worked hand-in-hand with developers to push for project approvals, train our workforce to safely apply their skills in this new industry and cultivate the next generation of Laborers across the state,” said Vincent Albanese, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the New York State Laborers’ Organizing Fund.Today’s decision by the Public Service Commission breaks the trust that we have been building with our members and the developers that invested time and resources in New York’s clean energy economy. This is not just disappointing, it is a devastating blow to the future clean energy economy in New York. We hope to get some clarity on a potential expedited rebidding process in the coming days so that we can still salvage as many of these projects as possible.

“We are extremely disappointed that the Public Service Commission’s decision today will most likely cause renewable energy projects to be delayed or canceled, and result in extending our reliance on dirty fossil peaker plants,” said Betta Broad, Campaign Director, New Yorkers for Clean Power. “It is unconscionable that the world’s climate scientists are urging us to slash greenhouse gas emissions for the sake of the planet’s survival, and yet New York regulators refuse to listen or take the necessary steps to implement our state’s Climate Plan.”

“We are at a crucial juncture, if the PSC and Governor Hochul allow these critical projects to falter, the implementation of our climate law will be delayed by years. This isn’t just about energy; it’s about the health and well-being of New Yorkers. Continued reliance on dirty peaker power plants means more years of poor air quality, with the dire health and economic consequences that come with it. The potential setback to the offshore wind industry isn’t just a blow to clean energy but a loss of job opportunities from Sunset Park to Albany. It’s time for promises to align with action,” said Conor Bambrick, Director of Policy, Environmental Advocates NY.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it—today’s decision by the PSC to forgo any action to address unforeseeable economic pressures impacting renewable energy projects threatens progress toward New York’s climate goals, including the commitment to reduce toxic air pollution from the combustion of fossilfueled generation located in or near disadvantaged communities,” said Chris Casey, Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The state must now pivot to an all-hands-on-deck effort to dramatically accelerate the timeframe for new clean energy resources to get steel in the ground and at sea. Anything less would be a failure of leadership that risks ceding New York’s status as a pioneering climate champion.”

“We are profoundly disappointed by the Public Service Commission’s decision, which yet again retreats from New York’s critical clean energy commitments,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Josh Berman. “For nearly 20 years, New York has continued to push out the goalposts rather than taking the actions necessary to support renewable energy development. The Commission and Governor Hochul are responsible for this indefinite delay of gigawatts of clean energy projects, which New Yorkers will pay for in their health as the state prolongs its reliance on dirty fossil energy.”

“This decision will be deeply regretted as the devastating costs of climate change become due. In the meantime, rising prices on fossil fuels will continue as always,” said Judith Hope, Founder of Win With Wind.

Long Island Association President & CEO Matt Cohen said, “Long Island is poised to be a national leader in the emerging offshore wind industry, but the Public Service Commission’s vote jeopardizes the new jobs and economic activity anticipated from the projects planned off our coast. It is critical that New York State immediately resets and doubles down on its efforts to partner with the private sector to diversify our fuel sources, combat climate change, and cultivate our clean energy ecosystem.”

“It’s as if we have been training for five years to run a marathon and just when we all got to the finish line, the state canceled the race. All the hard work building a workforce, engaging small businesses to get into the offshore wind supply chain, creating apprenticeships and job training programs and conducting public outreach has all been disregarded by the state. This setback is tragic, and it will be expensive for ratepayers. If these offshore wind projects are rebid, they may come in at even higher costs and we will have lost years in establishing offshore wind projects,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Real estate industry leaders, the City of New York, and the State of New York will collectively fail to realize our shared climate goals unless we rapidly scale up the renewable energy generation and transmission needed to serve New York City. In the wake of the Public Service Commission’s decision, it is critical that the Hochul Administration find a way to rapidly and affordably advance the renewable resources we need,” said Zach Steinberg, Senior Vice President at the Real Estate Board of New York. 

10.12.23 // AUTHOR: Devin Callahan //