State Legislature Passes Bill to Boost Clean Energy

Late last month, New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a bold climate plan which included an ambitious new standard requiring 70% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by the year 2030 and 100% clean power by 2040. 

This legislation has garnered a lot of attention, but what does it mean for existing renewable energy projects? Clean energy projects must be supported in order to reach the state’s new standards.

Fortunately, a bill to do just that, S. 23/A. 4294 (Parker/Cusick), also passed the state legislature. The legislation creates a second tier of supports for legacy renewable energy such as hydropower under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), an administrative standard which mandates a percentage of electricity come from renewable sources. RPS had previously only required electricity suppliers to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) from newer renewable projects, including solar and offshore wind, but denied eligibility to legacy projects. This bill extends the requirement for suppliers to purchase a portion of REC’s from legacy renewables built before 2015. The NYS Public Service Commission will determine annual targets for quantities of REC’s to be purchased. 

This gives legacy projects a greater stake in New York’s energy market.

REC’s are certificates which verify that electricity delivered to the grid was produced from a renewable source. These certificates are purchased from renewable energy-producing facilities by businesses or electrical utilities to support renewable energy without needing to install their own solar panels or renewable systems. Purchasing REC’s shows demand for renewable energy and encourages the growth of the industry. Requiring legacy projects be included in REC purchases guarantees their long-term viability. 

According to the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACENY), the new credit system included in the legislation will help these projects to remain in New York State and retain 22,000 jobs in renewables. Without the inclusion of legacy projects in the RPS, the facilities were in danger of retiring from operation or being forced to sell electricity out-of-state where there are additional markets. This would threaten both benefits to the state economy and the jobs involved in the projects. However, the increased support brought about by this legislation will keep the projects in operation in New York and continue to generate jobs in engineering, installation, and maintenance. 

NYLCV will continue to advocate for these types of policies across the state that support a green future.