NYS to study 100% renewables

GELF Applauds Cuomo’s Study on How Fast to Move to 100% renewables.

The Green Education and Legal Fund (GELF) applauded yesterday’s announcement by Governor Cuomo that the state will conduct a study on how fast New York can move to 100% clean energy.

GELF said it was encouraged that the Governor announced support for 2400 MW of offshore wind (OSW) by 2030, but noted that this fell significantly short of the call by environmental groups for the state to make a firm commitment to purchase 5000 MW of OSW by 2025 (and 10,000 MW by 2030 called for by GELF). The landmark study by Stanford and Cornell Professors showing that New York could get all its energy from 100% renewables by 2030 called for 40% of the power to come from OSW.

“We look forward to New York moving quickly to look at how fast renewables can be implemented. We hope that a significant part of the study will focus on what is technologically feasible rather than merely what is politically doable. The window to avoid catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing, with perhaps a decade left to end the burning of fossil fuels. We hope that Governor Cuomo can be a global game changer in the struggle to deal with climate change,” remarked Mark Dunlea of GELF.

GELF said it was important that the study process incorporate input from New York residents and workers.

Support for the study had been included in the 2016 Assembly Budget resolution. More than a dozen legislators have sponsored a bill to amend to state Master Plan to set a goal of 100% clean renewable energy by 2030., including a halt to the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

“Moving to 100% clean energy is not only great for the public health, it is great for local jobs and businesses,” noted Dunlea.

The Governor’s announcement on OSW failed to commit to a mechanism to accomplish the goal, such as a Power Purchase Agreement. Instead, the Governor referred to the previously announced effort to develop a wind master plan by 2018. The Governor did say that LIPA would finally vote to move ahead with a small (90 MW) OSW project for the East End of the Island, hopefully making it the second OSW project in the US.

Climate activists hope that the Governor’s budget proposals will include climate funding for initiatives targeting workers and disadvantaged communities impacted by climate change. They also want funding for a feasibility study for a state carbon tax.

The Governor has not yet agreed to support a state carbon tax to make polluters pay for the $30 billion in added health care costs to the state for health problems from burning fossil fuels. A carbon tax is the most efficient means to instill crucial price signals that spur carbon-reducing investment, such as in renewables.

Instead the Governor hopes to make some adjustments to the far less effective and comprehensive Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which Congressional studies show has had negligible impact on reducing carbon emissions. However, recent negotiations with other states on improving RGGI fell far short of the limited reforms environmentalists had pushed for. Pope Francis has expressed grave concerns about the morality and effectiveness of such cap-and-trade programs.

Many advocates are also dismayed that the Governor is giving Exelon $7.6 billion to keep failing upstate nuclear power plants open, far more than he is providing to renewable energy. The Governor announced this week an agreement to finally close the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Westchester though not for another five years. Many are perplexed why the Governor would pay to force some nukes to remain open while supporting the closing of others.

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Governor Cuomo directs the Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to undertake a comprehensive study to determine the most rapid, cost-effective, and responsible pathway to reach 100 percent renewable energy statewide. The State will engage academic partners to draw upon existing clean energy research and seek input from other key stakeholders.