By - Jim Vess

New York sets goal of carbon-free electricity by 2050 as clean energy pace picks up

Energize Weekly, December 26, 2018

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a target of net-zero-carbon electricity generation by 2040, as a broad array of clean energy initiatives continue to move forward in the state.

“The federal government still denies climate change, remarkably turning a blind eye to their own government’s scientific report,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York will be the most progressive state in the nation in moving to renewables and growing the new sustainable green economy.”

The target is a goal, not a mandate. Still, New York now joins California, Hawaii and New Jersey as states seeking to reach 100 percent clean electricity.

The energy goal was part of Cuomo’s “2019 Justice Agenda” unveiled Dec.17, which was framed as a critique of actions and inaction by the administration of President Donald Trump and Congress.

“We proclaim our Federal Government’s policy not only regressive, not only repugnant to New York values,” Cuomo said. “Let us pass this ambitious progressive agenda as New York’s restoration of true democracy, restoring fairness, progress and pride.” 

On Dec. 14, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the third phase in implementing the state’s Clean Energy Standard (CES), aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. The CES has a target of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Natural gas-fired units account for 46 percent of New York’s generating capacity, followed by nuclear with 27 percent of capacity and hydropower with 22 percent. Non-hydro renewable generation was 5 percent of the total as of September, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

The CES includes renewable energy credits to promote development of wind and solar and Zero Emission Credits, which go to qualified nuclear facilities. A final CES plan is slated to be issued in January 2019.

On Dec. 13, the New York PSC approved a goal of adding 1,500 megawatts (MW) of energy storage by 2025 and 3,000 MW by 2030. At the same time, the commission approved new energy efficiency targets for investor-owned utilities operating in the state.

The energy efficiency plan would double the pace of efficiency programs by 2025 through building retrofits, upgrades to heating and cooling systems and new technologies, such as heat pumps. A minimum of 20 percent of public investment in energy efficiency would go to the low- and moderate-income sectors.

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