Hello NYS? To Get to 100% Renewables, Start with the Renewables You Have

Brookfield Hydropower plant is 100 years old. Cohoes, NY

Brookfield Hydropower plant is 100 years old. Cohoes, NY

By Anne Reynolds

During NY’s latest legislative session, the big energy news was the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), and with good reason. it is a sweeping, ambitious, economy-wide call to action for New York State to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Among other important goals, it sets a 70% by 2030 renewable electricity mandate.

A lesser known bill was the NY Renewables Protection Act, (S.23/A.4294) which also passed both houses. This bill is much narrower but is so important to NY’s future ability to meet its goals. If signed into law by Governor Cuomo, this bill would require electricity suppliers to buy Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from NY’s existing, pre-2015, fleet of hydropower and wind farm and other renewables, so that NYS can count this green energy towards its new 70% renewable electricity mandate.  Now, NY counts these resources in its baseline of renewables, but does not buy their RECs or require electricity suppliers to do so. In response, these resources look elsewhere and sell their RECs to Massachusetts or other New England states. Most biogas generators, for example, already sell their RECs out-of-state. IF NYS was able to keep these projects from exporting, it will have a larger baseline of renewable energy, making it much more likely that the 70% mandate is achieved.

ACE NY is urging Governor Cuomo to sign this bill when it is sent to his desk. We released a video promoting the retainment of existing renewable energy resources. Clearly, To reach 70% renewables, New York needs to both build new renewable energy projects, and keep the ones we have. The best way to retain existing renewable facilities is laid out in the New York Renewables Protection Act (S.23/A.4294).  Along with ACE NY, many other organizatioins have sent letters to Governor Cuomo urging him to support this important piece of legislation. This includes private companies (like Ampersand Hydro, Brookfield Renewables, Enel Green Power, Gravity Renewables Inc., Energy Ottawa New York Generation Limited (Portage Power) and ReEnergy Holdings LLC), agriculture and forestry organizations (such as Empire State Forest Products Association and New York Farm Bureau), academic institutions (Columbia Law School (Sabin Center for Climate Change Law) , and major environmental organizations (e.g. Environmental Advocates of New York, Natural Resources Defense Council (sign on), New York League of Conservation Voters, and Sierra Club). There is broad support for this bill.

These powerful organizations think renewable energy made in New York should stay in New York to help us reach 70%. Without passage of this bill, New York’s fleet of existing renewables is at risk of shutting down or exporting their renewable energy attributes to other markets. We urge Governor Cuomo to sign this bill when it is sent from the Legislature.