Cuomo orders New York agency to draw up plan for 50% clean energy by 2030

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Dec. 2 directed the State Department of Public Service to design and enact a new Clean Energy Standard mandating that 50% of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 result from clean and renewable energy sources.

This announcement is made as New York and world leaders convene to talk climate change in Paris this week at the COP 21 gathering.

“Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and we must act now,” said Cuomo. “As discussions continue in Paris, we are taking real, enforceable actions in New York to lay the foundation for a thriving clean energy economy. With one of the most aggressive renewable energy goals of any state in the nation, we are leading by example to ensure the possibility of a bright future for generations to come.”

Under Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has taken bold action to modernize its energy system through the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). REV has laid the groundwork for the state and the private sector to aggressively add renewables. Now, the Clean Energy Standard provides a cost-effective, efficient, and enforceable mandate to meet the goal of ensuring clean, resilient, and affordable energy for all New Yorkers, said the governor. It will result in lower costs for renewable energy and create new opportunities to scale large renewable energy projects.

Additionally, Cuomo has directed the Department of Public Service to develop a process to prevent the “premature retirement of safe, upstate nuclear power plants during this transition.” As New York State continues to aggressively add new renewable resources, it cannot lose ground in the fight to reduce carbon pollution through the unnecessary retirement of safely operating nuclear plants in Upstate New York, the governor’s statement said. The early closure of those plants would result in increased carbon pollution from fossil fuel generators, reduced fuel diversity and unstable electric prices, as well as job losses and economic distress in Upstate communities. Support for nuclear plants is separate and distinct from the 50% renewable energy mandate.

The Cuomo statement didn’t name any particular nuclear plant that needs protecting. Exelon‘s (NYSE: EXC) R.E. Ginna nuclear facility is going through grid reliability support reviews at both the New York State Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which would potentially keep the plant operating for grid reliability reasons while power market prices improve – or the state steps in with some form of long-term support deal. Ginna is a 581-MW single-unit pressurized water reactor located in Ontario County, New York.

Also, Entergy (NYSE: ETR) announced Nov. 2 that it plans to retire its James A. FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Scriba, N.Y., in late 2016 or early 2017. The FitzPatrick plant generates 838 MW of nearly carbon-free electricity. FitzPatrick is a single-unit boiler water reactor.

Richard Kauffman, Chair of Energy and Finance for New York State, who will be participating in the COP 21 talks in Paris, said Dec. 2: “Today’s announcement codifies New York’s commitment to powering statewide economic development with clean, affordable energy. The creation of a Clean Energy Standard is good public policy for the environment and our economy.”

Audrey Zibelman, Chair of the Public Service Commission, said: “I am thrilled to see Governor Cuomo’s commitment to turn the State’s clean energy goals into an enforceable mandate. This mandate provides certainty and demonstrated commitment to development of renewable energy, which, in turn, will support the growing clean energy job sector. Given the critical importance of this initiative to achieve the goals of the State Energy Plan and the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, we will now begin the process and I look forward to engaging stakeholders as, together, we work to make the Governor’s new Clean Energy Standard a reality.”

The regulatory process to develop the Clean Energy Standard will include the opportunity for full and complete public and stakeholder participation. State law requires that the Public Service Commission takes all reasonable steps to meet New York’s goals set forth in the State Energy Plan. The governor’s directive sets forth a timeframe by which the commission should act. The new standard, which will be developed by the Department of Public Service to complement the governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan, is expected to be presented to the Public Service Commission by June 2016.

REV places clean, locally produced power at the core of New York’s energy system. This protects the environment and supports the state’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent while generating 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. Initiatives already launched as part of REV include NY-Sun, NY Green Bank, NY Prize, K-Solar, and a commitment to improve energy affordability for low-income communities.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.