Thursday, February 21, 2019

New York Boosts Zero-carbon, Renewable Goals

By Michael Kuser

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday vaulted the state ahead in environmental targets by pledging to erase the state’s carbon footprint by 2040 and nearly quadrupling its offshore wind energy goal to 9 GW by 2035.

Proclaiming that “the clean energy economy is coming,” Cuomo said he wants New York to be ready to fight climate change and create jobs with the “Green New Deal” he promised last month in a preview of his third term as governor. (See NY Looks to Expand Energy Programs in 2019.)

Major solar and wind projects in New York | NYSERDA

“Let us set the goal, 100% clean power by 2040, highest in the United States of America,” Cuomo said in his annual State of the State address in Albany. “Offshore wind has potential, we know it. The industry is moving that way and we want to locate it in this state. … Let’s invest $1.5 billion — it’s a real source for renewable energy — and let’s do it this year.”

The governor also pledged to invest $200 million in port infrastructure to support the offshore wind industry.

The state set its 100% clean energy goal for five years earlier than the target adopted last year by California. (See Calif. Gov. Signs Clean Energy Act Before Climate Summit.) The Cuomo administration released a book to accompany the governor’s address, in which he said the cornerstone of the new goal is an increase in the state’s renewable portfolio standard from 50% to 70% by 2030.

New York’s clean energy actions will also include doubling distributed solar generation to 6 GW by 2025 and deploying 3 GW of energy storage by 2030.

A future Climate Action Council will develop a plan to make the state carbon neutral, which may include “working with the U.S. Climate Alliance to create a new multistate emissions-reduction program that covers all sectors of the economy, including transportation and industry, and exploring ways to leverage the successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to drive transformational investment in the clean energy economy and support a just transition,” the administration’s book says.

Upstate and Plaudits

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his annual State of the State address in Albany on Jan. 15. | NYDPS

Cuomo also announced $1.5 billion in competitive awards to support 20 large-scale solar, wind and energy storage projects across upstate New York.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority estimates the projects will drive $4 billion in direct investment in the state’s clean energy economy, as well as add more than 1,650 MW of capacity and generate over 3.8 TWh of renewable energy annually.

Environmental advocates applauded the announcements.

“With a mandate to source 70% of the state’s energy through renewables by 2030, doubling New York’s distributed solar target and quadrupling the current offshore wind targets, the governor has proven that he is a national leader determined to make New York a 21st century, renewable energy, economic powerhouse,” said Lisa Dix, senior New York campaign manager for the Sierra Club.

“The plan set forth by Gov. Cuomo is certainly ambitious, often doubling or quadrupling previously set targets, but it is exactly the kind of detailed, innovative and comprehensive commitment necessary to rapidly facilitate the transition to a clean energy economy,” said Peter Rothstein, president of the Northeast Clean Energy Council, adding that he hoped the development would inspire other states to create similar plans.

Cuomo a year ago released the comprehensive New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan, which called for development of 2.4 GW of offshore wind by 2030, and in July 2018 the New York Public Service Commission authorized state agencies to procure 800 MW by this year. (See NYPSC: Offshore Wind ‘Ready for Prime Time’.) In consultation with the New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority, NYSERDA in November issued a request for proposals (ORECRFP18-1).

NYSERDA expects to announce the first offshore wind contract award in the second quarter of 2019 and, if needed, issue a second solicitation this year to meet the 800-MW goal of the first tranche.

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