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The word for 2019? MOMENTUM!

If your mission is to promote clean energy in New York – like ACE NY – then you are feeling pretty good right about now. What I mostly feel is: momentum.

Governor Cuomo’s Jan. 15th State of the State speech is a great example.  He again mentioned a Green New Deal for the State, and he provided some important insight into what he means: a renewable energy standard for electricity of 70% by 2030; a goal of 9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035; and a Climate Change Council to chart the pathway to economy-wide carbon neutrality. All three are really positive wins for clean energy.

The Governor’s written description of his proposed budget – fondly referred to as the Budget Book (starting on page 70) – has more details on what a Green New Deal could entail. For one, the 70% Clean Energy Standard would be supported by a doubling of the NY-Sun goal for distributed solar by 2025, right on target for the goals of the Million Solar Strong campaign, of which ACE NY is an active member.

The super ambitious 9,000 MW offshore wind mandate is an incredible step forward for this nascent industry. It is supported by a $200M investment in port infrastructure, on target for what the New York Offshore Wind Alliance was advocating, recognizing that bringing the offshore wind industry to New York in a real way will require modernized port facilities. What a job creator that will be! We truly applaud the State’s commitment to offshore wind. The Governor recognizes that offshore wind is a key energy industry of the future.

In the midst of these heady goals, renewables developers don’t forget the pragmatic details of developing projects, so we are happy to report that New York State isn’t either: the Budget Book outlines 8 new staff positions at the Department of Public Service – positions sorely needed to effectively process the robust pipeline of renewable energy projects – too many of them stalled -- that the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard has stimulated.

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Getting Renewables Sited in New York

Getting Renewables Sited in New York

By Erin Landy

The rate of permitting for large-scale renewables in New York State has become a major concern for ACE members and a potential roadblock in the path of the State achieving its 50% renewable energy standard by 2030. At the rate that new large-scale renewable projects are being approved, we will be nowhere near our goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030. Only one project has been approved thus far, four applications have recently been deemed compliant (complete), and another 33 projects are in the pipeline. It seems inevitable that the Department of Public Service (DPS) will need more staff to process these applications in a workable timeframe.

At this year’s  ACE NY Fall Conference, the Article 10 siting issue was a major theme. Sarah Osgood, Director of Policy Implementation at NYS DPS spoke on one panel and stated, "We need to have a rigorous and comprehensive application and review process but — and this is I think a very big but — the process must work. Hard stop. It must work. It needs to be as frictionless and smooth as possible, and we're moving in that direction, but we clearly have work to do."

The Article 10 process is lengthy, expensive, and unpredictable. ACE NY has a number of recommendations on how the process can be much more efficient: We recommend more predictable and timely completeness reviews, a better stipulations process, the development and use of standardized conditions, and more open and  productive communications between applicants and staff at the various Siting Board agencies, including DPS, DEC, and others.

The good news? DPS has assigned Ms. Osgood to focus on improvement of the process at DPS, and we also hear that some consulting support is now available to help with Article 10 at the NYS agencies. This, and the recent completeness determinations, may be reason for optimism. Still, changing agency culture is tough, and it often appears like the staff encouraging renewables and the staff permitting renewables are from two different States – or planets.

ACE NY will continue to focus on this issue and welcomes ideas or war stories from members companies now engaged in Article 10.