New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – a measure indicating the proportion of energy generated from sustainable means – has raised the bar for progress across the state.
An RPS stipulates a proportion of clean energy use – from sources such as wind and solar – to take effect by a certain date. For 2015, New York State aimed to reach a 30 percent renewable energy rate, behind only Maine and Vermont in the country as a whole. This past year, Governor Andrew Cuomo upped the ante by committing to a 50 percent rate by 2030, as part of his Reforming the Energy Vision initiative.
In addition, the Governor has urged the Department of Public Service to utilize nuclear power to compensate for demand while green energy sources develop. This, however, has grown into a complicated web of controversy, centering around a handful of nuclear reactors.
But what benefits does New York’s new mandate carry? The mandate enforces what Governor Cuomo has long touted as a goal – a 50 percent reduction in unsustainable energy use, and a 40 percent reduction in power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions.
RPSs encourage the development of the industry, leading to wider adaption of clean energy technology. According to a study from Berkeley Lab, nationwide, RPS programs have reduced greenhouse gasses by 59 million metric tons, leading to a $2.2 billion benefit. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matters have also decreased by significant amounts, with massive savings as a result. Water use has dropped, and the efforts have yielded some $20 billion in GDP, spread across 200,000 new domestic jobs. Indeed, despite a frequent objection of prohibitive costs, the windfall on renewables clearly outweighs the spending.
An article by Vox concludes that between health and climate effects, RPS programs yield benefits more than three times the value of their costs.
Governor Andrew Cuomo seeks to make New York a national leader in the effort to fight climate change. By developing a bold, new industry, New York State leads the charge in cutting down on harmful emissions.