November 02, 2018 Jackson Morris Ada Statler
A coalition of environmental organizations, clean energy advocates, community groups, and building industry companies today sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging the state to take swift, bold action to follow through on its nation-leading pledge to accelerate energy efficiency in New York State. This past Earth Day, New York State announced a new, ambitious 2025 energy efficiency target: save 185 trillion British thermal units (tBTU) of energy, helping the state meet its 40 percent emissions reduction climate goal by 2030. The goal also envisions ramping up efficiency deployment so that by 2025, 3 percent of overall electricity demand is met bysavings rather than more power (a level being achieved by only the top efficiency states in the country).
But realizing this bold vision can only be achieved with smart and timely implementation—the state must act now to ensure we’re on track.
The letter’s signatories support energy efficiency as the cornerstone of the state’s clean energy portfolio and the many benefits clean energy provides, including lower utility bills (saving New Yorkers billions!), stable local jobs, a more reliable electric grid, and state-wide reductions in carbon emissions and other harmful pollutants.
As a coalition, we recognize that saving 185 tBTU is a long-term goal that will almost certainly require adjustments along the way. But thanks in part to extensive stakeholder outreach conducted by the Department of Public Service and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), we know how to get started. The critical actions outlined below – and included in the coalition’s letter to the Governor – will help ensure the state is on track to meet its 2030 climate goals:
Establish clear cost-recovery mechanisms: There’s no denying that additional strategic expenditures are needed for the state’s investor-owned utilities to achieve their part of the state’s energy savings goal. But doing so requires a clear and overarching framework for cost-recovery. Absent that framework, utilities lack the clear signal to do their part.
Ensure energy efficiency equity for all New Yorkers: Efficiency programs must be inclusive of all customers and prioritize investments for efficiency improvements in low-to-moderate-income communities.
Prioritize clean heating and cooling: Especially under the all-fuel savings target, scaling up the deployment of highly efficient electric heat pump systems to cut our reliance on oil and gas must be a core part of utilities’ efficiency efforts (in close collaboration with NYSERDA in order to ensure a coordinated statewide approach). As discussed in a recent report commissioned by NRDC, meeting a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2040 is not possible if we continue to heat our buildings with fossil fuels in the coming decades.
Establish an advisory body to ensure smart implementation and follow-through: Utilities will need to craft and implement programs designed to meet the state’s efficiency goals. Doing so effectively and in short order will require additional guidance. Setting up a statewide advisory council of experts would help utilities reach their goals while also providing greater transparency to stakeholders.
NRDC is committed to energy efficiency as an essential tool to save customers money, create good, local jobs, strengthen the state’s economy, bolster grid reliability and protect people and the planet. As this letter shows, we are joined by many stakeholders in New York who care deeply about energy efficiency and are closely tracking the progress made toward meeting the state’s bold energy savings target. We remain confident that together, we will meet this goal and cement New York’s position as a clean energy leader — but staying on track and reaping the benefits of a stronger, cleaner New York requires decisive action now.