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New York’s Carbon Emission Reduction Goals Will they be enough and will they be in time?

Greenland approaching the threshold.

Dramatic action to cut greenhouse gas emissions has never been more urgent. Carbon emissions increased nationwide last year by 3.4 percent, ending three years of decline. Our action needs to (1) be speedy and (2) effect large-scale change. Today we learn that Greenland’s Ice is melting much faster than previously anticipated, with a dramatic 4 times the ice loss compared to 2003, and that the warming threshold could be passed in a matter of years, making Greenland meltdown and rising seas irreversible. At the end of last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we may only have 10-12 years to get off fossil fuels soon enough to reverse and begin to stop this terrifying trend.

We salute Governor Cuomo for addressing climate change as one of his third-term priorities: Raising the state’s target for renewable electricity from 50 to 70% by the year 2030 symbolized this commitment and would be a tremendous accomplishment. In particular, committing to fund 8 new positions to speed the siting of renewable energy projects - solar and wind power - at the Department of Public Service is critically important. He has raised the bar by pledging to bring 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. Achieving these goals includes making New York State a national hub for offshore wind power.

But New York is up against a huge backlog of renewable projects awaiting state review and approval. It is hard to believe, with all the talk about New York’s leading role, but the state has only approved one renewable project since the passage of its power plant siting law in 2011. That is Public Service Law Article 10, originally crafted to ensure minimal environmental impacts from large gas and other fossil fuel plants, and now making approval of solar and wind projects unnecessarily expensive, unpredictable and cumbersome. Adding muscle to the reviewing staff will help: a full review of the regulations and practices is also essential.

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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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New Year/New Energy: Ambitious Long-Term Goals Start with Concrete Action Today

The new year brings new hope for building renewable energy in New York State. Gov. Cuomo’s aggressive goal of achieving 50% of our electricity from renewable resources by 2030 puts New York in a Nation-leading role. But we are in danger of coming up short if we can’t get more projects built, making the even more robust target of eliminating fossil-fuel generated power by 2050 elusive.

The Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) is excited to welcome the 2019-2020 Legislature to Albany. Our members -- renewable energy developers, energy efficiency companies and environmental groups -- look with anticipation to the new political lineup in the Capital. The Senate’s new leadership and many new members face a challenging and unprecedented opportunity to act. ACE NY member companies are ready and able to invest in New York’s path to a clean energy future through the construction of renewables in the state, such as wind power, solar energy, and offshore wind.

How can we get to 50% clean power by 2030? A successful plan to achieve 50% renewable power has four parts. First, we need to keep the existing renewable energy generators operating and selling their output here. Second, we need to craft and implement a pathway to achieve the ambitious energy efficiency goals assumed in the Clean Energy Standard calculations. Third, we need to ensure that rooftop and community solar will flourish by guaranteeing adequate and predicable compensation. Fourth – and most important – we need to build far more grid-scale renewable energy generation and we need to build it almost 5 times faster than we have for the last decade. This is doable, but will require sustained commitment to the pragmatic details of getting projects not only into the pipeline, but built.

Let’s remember that ambitious long-range goals start with concrete action today. In New York, this requires a more efficient, timely and well-staffed implementation of Article 10 of the Public Service Law to review and permit projects. This, and the actions outlined above, are the necessary complements to the excellent policy foundation provided by the Clean Energy Standard. Our collective success will mean new jobs, a stronger economy, cleaner air, and real steps to a livable climate for all New Yorkers.

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NY Is Officially in the Offshore Wind Arena

NY Is Officially in the Offshore Wind Arena

By Joe Martens

After years of study and planning, New York State has made good on Governor Cuomo’s promise to pursue at least 800 MW of offshore wind in 2018 and 2019. Last week, the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released a request for proposals for 800 MW or more of offshore wind. The RFP is the culmination of a deliberative process that started with a Blueprint for Offshore Wind published in the fall of 2016, followed by the release in January 2018 of a NYS Offshore Wind Master Plan, followed by a Public Service Commission Order issued in August.  

To its credit, NYSERDA and its sister agencies have engaged stakeholders at every stage of the process and continue to refine the offshore wind program through the formation of four technical working groups covering environment, fisheries, ports and infrastructure, and jobs and supply chain. 

I serve on the Environmental Technical Working Group (E-TWG), which kicked off a two-day “State of the Science” workshop on wildlife and offshore wind energy development on Long Island this past week. The workshop was attended by well over 100 people, including experts from Europe, where there are now 91 offshore wind farms in operation. The workshop examined current research on the potential impacts to marine mammals, birds, bats, and more. Participants identified data gaps, research needs, and discussed how to prioritize the work that should be done to ensure that the offshore wind industry is developed responsibly with the least amount of environmental impact. 

Next up, NYSERDA is hosting a “Suppliers Forum” in New York City to ensure that information about offshore wind supply chain is broadcast far and wide and offshore wind-related businesses are connected to offshore wind developers in an effort to maximize the amount of New York vendors in this burgeoning industry. NYSERDA estimates that offshore wind development will employ some 5,000 people and generate some $6 billion in economic activity, making this Suppliers Forum very timely.

And finally, later this month, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management will hold a Renewable Energy Task Force meeting to discuss its proposed Wind Energy Area in the New York Bight.  BOEM is proposing a dramatically reduced area for potential lease, causing concerns about whether it is adequate to ensure robust competition and large enough to meet the offshore wind goals of New York and New Jersey.  Stay tuned for more on this.

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.   

It's a Wrap! ACE NY Hosts Its Most Successful Annual Fall Conference and Membership Meeting

It's a Wrap! ACE NY Hosts Its Most Successful Annual Fall Conference and Membership Meeting

From Policy to Projects: Putting NYers to Work for Clean Energy -- ACE NY’s 12th Annual Fall Conference and Membership Meeting -- attracted over 200 attendees to the beautifully renovated Albany Capital Center October 9-10, from a broad range of industries, individuals, and media interested in clean energy.

 

Spotlight Speaker, Alicia Barton, President & CEO, NYSERDA, delivering a Clean Energy Update

 

 

Starting with a members-only Board meeting October 9, ACE NY’s growing membership of clean energy developers, nonprofits, and industry organizations used the rest of the day to engage in membership roundtable discussion groups that covered Article 10 issues and improvements, large scale renewables procurement by the state, and legislation on energy efficiency and distributed energy resources. The work-day wrapped up with a late afternoon panel discussion on the NYISO carbon charge proposal featuring panelists Michael Mager from Multiple Intervenors, Frank Murray from NRDC, Kathy Robertson from Exelon, and Chris LaRoe from Brookfield. The interest in the carbon charge panel was obvious, resulting in a standing-room only scenario and discussion lasting longer than the allotted 75 minutes from on-going member questions to the panelists about the topic.

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Made in NY? How can we foster voluntary corporate renewable energy buying in New York?

Made in NY? How can we foster voluntary corporate renewable energy buying in New York?

By Anne Reynolds

With the backdrop of United Nations VIPs clogging the streets of Manhattan, ACE NY hosted a breakfast panel discussion on corporate purchasing of renewable energy for Climate Week NYC to a standing-room only crowd. Richard Kauffman, New York’s Chair of Energy and Finance, set the context for the discussion, citing strong progress on renewables procurement by New York, including the draft RFP for offshore wind and reiterating NY’s intention to get this RFP finalized and released by the end of the year. (Exciting!). He also acknowledged the significant workload in getting renewable energy projects through the review and permitting process known as Article 10 and recognized the need to balance proper review with an efficient and timely process. Hopefully, New York will have more progress to report on Article 10 in the coming months.

Mr. Kauffman then outlined a “trial balloon” to get the conversation rolling: If the major barrier to getting renewables bought in NY vs. other states was a higher price for Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), what if the state played a role in bringing down the price for voluntary purchases by a competitive auction and a public contribution to help make up the difference? An interesting idea.

Kara Allen of NYSERDA was a gracious moderator and began by asking our panelists to outline the benefits of voluntary renewable energy purchasing.  In response, Harry Singh of Goldman & Sachs cited their corporate sustainability goals, the interest in a possible hedge of energy prices, and the desire to have the procurement be related to their own load, i.e. near their footprint. While Goldman explored a deal in New York, it ultimately went with a wind project in Pennsylvania, mostly due to costs. For Cornell University, panelist Sarah Zemanick also cited sustainability goals, but also mentioned student and faculty demand for clean energy and the desire for a living laboratory – i.e. opportunities for research or education.  In the case of Cornell, there is also an interest in distributed projects that can be located on or near campus and offset their current campus-based fossil fuel electricity generation.

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