The New York State Public Service Commission has approved a new energy standard that will require 50 percent 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 percent of the state’s total electricity load in 2017 and grow to 30.54 percent of the statewide total in 2021.
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.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo hailed the new standards, adding that an average residential customer will see less than a $2 monthly increase to their bill.
“This Clean Energy Standard shows you can generate the power necessary for supporting the modern economy while combating climate change,” the governor said. “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.”
Keeping the state’s nuclear power plants in operation during the transition to 50 percent renewable energy is a key component of the plan.
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 expected to adopt the same requirements.
This will allow financially-struggling upstate nuclear power plants to remain in operation during New York’s transition to 50 percent 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, according to the Governor’s Office.
“I applaud the Public Service Commission’s decision today to approve a clean energy standard, in particular, the portion that will prevent the premature closure of our state’s nuclear facilities,” said Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome, the chair of the Senate Energy Committee. The system adopted Monday and going into effect next year compensates the state’s nuclear plants for the zero-emission power they generate.
Other highlights of the plan include developing a blueprint to advance offshore wind energy and improving energy storage and transmission systems across the state.
The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels, and cut them 80 percent by 2050.