By Ramona du Houx
October 16, 2020
The New York State Public Service Commission approved an expansion of the Clean Energy Standard to refocus New York’s existing regulatory and procurement structure on achieving the goals laid out in New York’s nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, or CLCPA.
The CLCPA established a 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030 mandate, setting the State on an ambitious trajectory to a zero-emission power sector by 2040. The expanded Clean Energy Standard gives the state the authority to issue a Request for Proposals for the renewable power generation sources needed to implement this plan.
“We do not have time to waste in the fight against climate change and New York continues to lead by advancing the most aggressive policies in the nation to slow the warming of the planet,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo . “With this expansion of our Clean Energy Standard, we are further accelerating the State’s historic efforts to grow our onshore and offshore renewable capacity, and create thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs for New Yorkers that will power our economic recovery, while also ensuring a large share of the benefits go to communities and workers that have been historically disadvantaged.”
The economy-wide decarbonization called for by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo — and codified in the CLCPA — requires New York to develop a power generation sector that no longer increases greenhouse gases while providing clean electricity to a greater proportion of the overall economy. Both strategies will lead to the decarbonization of the generation sector and the electrification of other sectors — all while ensuring greater deployment of energy efficiency — and will need to be carried out collectively and cost-effectively to achieve the State’s ambitious goals.
Today’s action implements the CLCPA requirements that the PSC establish a program to increase the use of renewable energy in the State from 50 percent to 70 percent by 2030 and increase the use of offshore wind from 2,400 MW by 2030 to 9,000 MW by 2035.
“Governor Cuomo’s visionary climate and energy legislation and New York’s need for a just, clean, resilient and affordable energy system require us to build smart, economic renewable energy at greater scale and at a much faster pace. This comprehensive and ambitious plan delivers on those goals and will enable all needed kinds of renewable energy to reach all New Yorkers,” said PSC Chairman John B. Rhodes.
The new and improved CES will fight climate change, reduce harmful air pollution, and ensure a diverse and reliable low carbon energy supply. By focusing on low-carbon energy sources, the CES will bring competition and investment, economic development and jobs to New York State. While the clean energy industry has not been spared the economic fallout from the COVID-19 public health crisis, achievement of the CLCPA goals is expected to result in significant investment and job growth throughout the renewable energy supply chain and will be a critical part of New York’s overarching strategy to build back better.
The initiative approved today by the PSC includes the following:
- Implements key provisions in the CLCPA related to securing 70 percent renewable energy by 2030, including defining renewable energy technology eligibility and the amount of renewable energy needed to meet New York’s goal, identifies annual procurement targets for the Tier 1 large-scale renewable energy program adopted under the CES, and recommends changes to the existing Tier 1 procurement processes;
- Sets targets for offshore wind renewable energy intended to meet the requirement of securing nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035;
- Creates a new methodology for extending Tier 1 renewable energy eligibility to renewable energy facilities that undergo repowering;
- Creates a competitive five-year Tier 2 program under the CES to preserve existing renewable baseline generation to support the 70 x 30 goal;
- Creates a new Tier 4 large-scale renewable program to specifically value environmental attributes associated with renewable energy delivered into New York City that will be in addition to annual Tier 1 procurement targets; and
- Creates tangible approaches to ensure that the State’s renewable energy programs provide substantial benefits for disadvantaged communities, including low to moderate income customers as called for under the CLCPA, and builds upon its workforce development policies to specifically promote good jobs, including prevailing wage requirements.
New York State’s clean energy strategy has and will continue to take steps to ensure that these new investments result in jobs for New Yorkers that provide family-sustaining wages and benefits and help to align the imperative of the climate change crisis with the new urgency of the economic recovery efforts across state. NYSERDA has made a $70 million commitment to fund clean energy workforce development programs aimed at upskilling existing clean energy workers, offering training to displaced workers from traditional energy sectors, and to provide on-the-job training and internship opportunities, with a focus on priority populations including veterans, low-income individuals, unemployed power plant workers and previously incarcerated individuals, among others.
Today’s decision builds on the State’s actions to more quickly advance development of large renewable energy projects, markedly decreasing fossil-fuel generation and reducing the need for peaker plants in the downstate region. The State’s Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, which was part of this year’s final enacted State budget, creates a first-in-the-nation Office of Renewable Energy Siting to improve and streamline the process for environmentally responsible and cost-effective siting of large-scale renewable energy projects across New York while delivering benefits to local communities. That act also creates a Clean Energy Resources Development and Incentives Program which will assist local communities to rapidly advance new “Build-Ready” projects and includes critical provisions that will help deliver clean electricity to New Yorkers upstate and downstate by prioritizing necessary upgrades to the power grid.