New York PSC formally adopts 50% by 2030 renewable energy target

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Aug. 1 announced the New York State Public Service Commission’s approval of New York’s Clean Energy Standard, which will require 50% of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030, with an aggressive phase in schedule over the next several years.

In its initial phase, utilities and other energy suppliers will be required to procure and phase in new renewable power resources starting with 26.31% of the state’s total electricity load in 2017 and grow to 30.54% of the statewide total in 2021.

“New York has taken bold action to become a national leader in the clean energy economy and is taking concrete, cost-effective steps today to safeguard this state’s environment for decades to come,” Cuomo said. “This Clean Energy Standard shows you can generate the power necessary for supporting the modern economy while combatting climate change. Make no mistake, this is a very real threat that continues to grow by the day and I urge all other states to join us in this fight for our very future.”

The Clean Energy Standard will:

  • Significantly reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and prevent backsliding on progress made to date by maintaining the operations of carbon-free nuclear power plants as the state transitions to a 50% renewable requirement; and
  • Strengthen New York’s electric fuel diversity for the reliability benefits it brings.

The Clean Energy Standard also places New York as a leader of the global effort to combat climate change and the resulting extreme weather events.

The Clean Energy Standard will be enforced by requiring utilities and other energy suppliers to obtain a targeted number of Renewable Energy Credits each year. These credits will be paid to renewable developers to help finance new renewable energy sources that will be added to the electric grid.

PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman said: “Through the Clean Energy Standard, New York will be attracting billions of dollars in private investment for new renewable power supplies, developing new jobs and new green choices for consumers. CES adoption will bring numerous benefits to consumers, including a reduction in carbon and other harmful pollutants, and continued maintenance of fuel diversity. It is a crucial addition to the Commission’s actions under Reforming the Energy Vision to integrate clean energy into the fabric of a modern, efficient and secure power system. New York is now on its way to ’50 by 30′ and even more renewable power will be within our reach.”

The Clean Energy Standard decision of Aug. 1 also includes other directives to reach the 50 by 2030 mandate:

  • The PSC will work with thr New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and stakeholders to develop the content and standards that could be used to create a New York-certified clean electric product. This product will be clearly labeled and identified as New York-based clean power giving consumers the ability to buy 100% clean power, should they want that option.
  • The PSC will promote and support maximum expansion of energy efficiency wherever possible and evaluate the creation of renewable heating and cooling technologies such as geothermal heat pumps.
  • The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will develop a blueprint to advance offshore wind energy, a report already in progress by the authority.
  • PSC staff will work with the New York ISO and other stakeholders to ensure that necessary investments are made in storage, transmission and other technologies to secure a reliable electric system.

Triennial reviews of the Clean Energy Standard will be done by the Public Service Commission to ensure economic and clean energy goals are being achieved.

Maintaining zero-emission nuclear power is a critical element to achieving New York’s ambitious climate goals, said the PSC. Starting in April 2017, the Clean Energy Standard requires all six New York investor-owned utilities and other energy suppliers to pay for the intrinsic value of carbon-free emissions from nuclear power plants by purchasing Zero-Emission Credits. The New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority are also expected to adopt the same requirements. This will allow financially-struggling upstate nuclear plants to remain in operation during New York’s transition to 50% renewables by 2030.

A growing number of climate scientists have warned that if these nuclear plants were to abruptly close, carbon emissions in New York will increase by more than 31 million metric tons during the next two years, resulting in public health and other societal costs of at least $1.4 billion, said the PSC.

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.