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Offshore Wind Lease Auction Blows Old Record Out of the Water

The three easternmost areas (0520, 0521, and 0522) sold today for a collective $405 million. Map: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
What a difference a few years and visionary leadership can make. This morning, developers finished 32 rounds of bidding on areas of federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts designated for offshore wind power development. The three areas drew a collective total of just over $405 million. Moving from west to east, the winning bidders are Equinor Wind, Mayflower Wind Energy, and Vineyard Wind, with bids of $135 million, $135 million, and $135.1 million, respectively.
The federal government has been holding offshore wind energy auctions since 2013, and in early 2015 offered this same portion of the ocean for auction… but there were no bidders. Until today, the highest bid on an offshore wind energy area was $42 million, for an area off of New York that Equinor (formerly Statoil) won just two years ago.
Zero to hundreds of millions in four years– what happened?!
What has changed to spike such intense competition? Quite a bit, actually. Despite the fact that the U.S. has yet to get a single offshore wind turbine built in federal waters (the nation’s only five turbines stand in Rhode Island state waters), globally speaking the offshore wind industry is booming – and has been growing for decades. The U.S. Atlantic Coast is prime for offshore wind development; it’s home to plenty of demand for power, a strong and consistent wind resource, and a gradually sloping outer continental shelf essential for fixing turbines to the seafloor.
Offshore wind developers worldwide have had an eye on this part of the planet for quite some time – while eagerly awaiting a shift in the political climate.
Back in 2015, while thousands of offshore wind turbines operated to great success around the globe, decision-makers in the U.S. were still grappling with whether to support the concept. There was some policy progress in the Mid-Atlantic, but not a single Northeast state had made a large-scale commitment to offshore wind power development. Massachusetts’s Cape Wind project had just lost its utility contracts after over a decade of legal battles with deep-pocketed opponents unwilling to share Nantucket Sound with wind turbines, and the few developers willing to take the gamble on U.S. development had already acquired a handful of other lease areas – stretching any thinner with such uncertainty would have been tough to justify.
The Block Island Wind Farm is currently America’s only offshore wind power project – five turbines in Rhode Island State Waters. Photo: NWF
Since then, the U.S. offshore wind story has turned from a crawl to a full sprint. The Block Island Wind Farm is up and running, demonstrating what these feats of engineering are capable of: replacing fossil fuel-fired power plants and providing clean, domestic power right when and where we need it most. MassachusettsNew York, and New Jersey have made assertive commitments to develop enough offshore wind power for hundreds of thousands of homes apiece. MassachusettsNew YorkRhode Island, and Connecticut are advancing specific project contracts. It’s a new day for offshore wind power in the Northeast. The opportunity is here and now, and developers are vying to get in the game.
“This historic auction clearly demonstrates investor confidence in America’s offshore wind market, thanks to the leadership of states like Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey that have set long term, large scale commitments to finally bring this critically needed climate solution online… The National Wildlife Federation applauds the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for a successful auction and congratulates Equinor Wind, Mayflower Wind Energy and Vineyard Wind for securing these new leases. Looking forward, we will continue to work with all leaseholders to ensure that coastal and marine wildlife are protected throughout every stage of the offshore wind development process.” -- Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation (See full statement here.)
What's Next?
There’s still a long way to go from here. Developers now need to learn the details of their areas, design projects, secure power contracts and an extensive number of permits, and much more. There are public comment periods every step of the way, and ample opportunity to raise and work through concerns.
The National Wildlife Federation looks forward to working with these new lease holders to ensure that wildlife and habitat will be protected throughout every stage of surveying and development. We will continue to advocate for the swift and responsible development of offshore wind power, and we hope you will join us in speaking up for this important clean energy solution. Offshore wind power can play a key role in transforming our energy profile into one we can be proud of – and it will take all of us pushing in that direction to ensure we seize the opportunity closer to our grasp than ever before.

Cuomo Delivers Sweeping Action on Energy Efficiency, Storage

 

The Public Service Commission approved two orders to advance New York's leadership in energy efficiency and storage. The energy storage order is expected to pave the way for energy storage resources to be paired with solar energy for maximum benefits.

As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

At today’s public meeting, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) approved two major initiatives that will help achieve Governor Andrew Cuomo’s bold vision for New York State’s burgeoning clean energy economy.

First, the PSC approved an order to dramatically scale up a critical cornerstone of any effective climate and clean energy portfolio: energy efficiency (EE). Department of Public Service (DPS) staff outlined an EE plan that—if effectively implemented—will drive an estimated $15 billion in customer savings by 2025, according to DPS projections. Second, the PSC approved a nation-leading commitment to accelerating energy storage in New York—a technology that is becoming increasingly important to a clean and dynamic energy system.

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Key Capture Energy Guest Blogs about Importance of Energy Storage in Modernizing NY State's Electric Grid

 

 

 

As New York moves towards 50% clean energy by 2030, energy storage will continue to play an integral role of modernizing the state’s electric grid. The energy landscape in New York is quickly evolving, and New York State is increasingly incorporating storage technologies into the planning of its electric future.

In his 2018 State of the State Address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to lead the fight against climate change by continuing to pursue greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 through the integration of clean energy. In conjunction with these clean energy goals and to address the challenges with integrating and maximizing the benefits of clean energy resources, Governor Cuomo delivered the largest energy storage target per capita recorded yet by any state. His initiative strives to increase the transmission of clean and renewable energy while overcoming traditional grid infrastructure upgrades. Governor Cuomo pledged to commit $200 million of financing from the Green Bank and at least $60 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to achieve progressive energy storage deployment targets, in furtherance of his plan to achieve a nation-leading target of 1,500 megawatts (MW) of energy storage by 2025.

“Energy storage technologies serve a critical role in promoting a clean energy economy,” Governor Cuomo said regarding the energy storage deployment program. “Not only will energy storage technologies relieve pressure on existing transmission and grid infrastructure, they will enhance the development and uptake of renewable energy and create new ‘green’ jobs.”

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NY Is Officially in the Offshore Wind Arena

NY Is Officially in the Offshore Wind Arena

By Joe Martens

After years of study and planning, New York State has made good on Governor Cuomo’s promise to pursue at least 800 MW of offshore wind in 2018 and 2019. Last week, the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released a request for proposals for 800 MW or more of offshore wind. The RFP is the culmination of a deliberative process that started with a Blueprint for Offshore Wind published in the fall of 2016, followed by the release in January 2018 of a NYS Offshore Wind Master Plan, followed by a Public Service Commission Order issued in August.  

To its credit, NYSERDA and its sister agencies have engaged stakeholders at every stage of the process and continue to refine the offshore wind program through the formation of four technical working groups covering environment, fisheries, ports and infrastructure, and jobs and supply chain. 

I serve on the Environmental Technical Working Group (E-TWG), which kicked off a two-day “State of the Science” workshop on wildlife and offshore wind energy development on Long Island this past week. The workshop was attended by well over 100 people, including experts from Europe, where there are now 91 offshore wind farms in operation. The workshop examined current research on the potential impacts to marine mammals, birds, bats, and more. Participants identified data gaps, research needs, and discussed how to prioritize the work that should be done to ensure that the offshore wind industry is developed responsibly with the least amount of environmental impact. 

Next up, NYSERDA is hosting a “Suppliers Forum” in New York City to ensure that information about offshore wind supply chain is broadcast far and wide and offshore wind-related businesses are connected to offshore wind developers in an effort to maximize the amount of New York vendors in this burgeoning industry. NYSERDA estimates that offshore wind development will employ some 5,000 people and generate some $6 billion in economic activity, making this Suppliers Forum very timely.

And finally, later this month, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management will hold a Renewable Energy Task Force meeting to discuss its proposed Wind Energy Area in the New York Bight.  BOEM is proposing a dramatically reduced area for potential lease, causing concerns about whether it is adequate to ensure robust competition and large enough to meet the offshore wind goals of New York and New Jersey.  Stay tuned for more on this.

31 Groups Urge Gov Cuomo to Double Down on Energy Efficiency

31 Groups Urge Gov Cuomo to Double Down on Energy Efficiency

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.

Getting Renewables Sited in New York

Getting Renewables Sited in New York

By Erin Landy

The rate of permitting for large-scale renewables in New York State has become a major concern for ACE members and a potential roadblock in the path of the State achieving its 50% renewable energy standard by 2030. At the rate that new large-scale renewable projects are being approved, we will be nowhere near our goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030. Only one project has been approved thus far, four applications have recently been deemed compliant (complete), and another 33 projects are in the pipeline. It seems inevitable that the Department of Public Service (DPS) will need more staff to process these applications in a workable timeframe.

At this year’s  ACE NY Fall Conference, the Article 10 siting issue was a major theme. Sarah Osgood, Director of Policy Implementation at NYS DPS spoke on one panel and stated, "We need to have a rigorous and comprehensive application and review process but — and this is I think a very big but — the process must work. Hard stop. It must work. It needs to be as frictionless and smooth as possible, and we're moving in that direction, but we clearly have work to do."

The Article 10 process is lengthy, expensive, and unpredictable. ACE NY has a number of recommendations on how the process can be much more efficient: We recommend more predictable and timely completeness reviews, a better stipulations process, the development and use of standardized conditions, and more open and  productive communications between applicants and staff at the various Siting Board agencies, including DPS, DEC, and others.

The good news? DPS has assigned Ms. Osgood to focus on improvement of the process at DPS, and we also hear that some consulting support is now available to help with Article 10 at the NYS agencies. This, and the recent completeness determinations, may be reason for optimism. Still, changing agency culture is tough, and it often appears like the staff encouraging renewables and the staff permitting renewables are from two different States – or planets.

ACE NY will continue to focus on this issue and welcomes ideas or war stories from members companies now engaged in Article 10.   

It's a Wrap! ACE NY Hosts Its Most Successful Annual Fall Conference and Membership Meeting

It's a Wrap! ACE NY Hosts Its Most Successful Annual Fall Conference and Membership Meeting

From Policy to Projects: Putting NYers to Work for Clean Energy -- ACE NY’s 12th Annual Fall Conference and Membership Meeting -- attracted over 200 attendees to the beautifully renovated Albany Capital Center October 9-10, from a broad range of industries, individuals, and media interested in clean energy.

 

Spotlight Speaker, Alicia Barton, President & CEO, NYSERDA, delivering a Clean Energy Update

 

 

Starting with a members-only Board meeting October 9, ACE NY’s growing membership of clean energy developers, nonprofits, and industry organizations used the rest of the day to engage in membership roundtable discussion groups that covered Article 10 issues and improvements, large scale renewables procurement by the state, and legislation on energy efficiency and distributed energy resources. The work-day wrapped up with a late afternoon panel discussion on the NYISO carbon charge proposal featuring panelists Michael Mager from Multiple Intervenors, Frank Murray from NRDC, Kathy Robertson from Exelon, and Chris LaRoe from Brookfield. The interest in the carbon charge panel was obvious, resulting in a standing-room only scenario and discussion lasting longer than the allotted 75 minutes from on-going member questions to the panelists about the topic.

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Harvesting the Sun Creates Challenges for Solar Farms

Harvesting the Sun Creates Challenges for Solar Farms

Anne Reynolds
Executive Director, Alliance for Clean Energy, New York

This article first appeared in the October 2018 edition of Grassroots, the New York Farm Bureau newspaper.

A mid-September community meeting in New York’s Greene County drew a crowd of more than a hundred local citizens with opinions about a 50 megawatt (50MW) solar facility proposed on active farmland in the town of Coxsackie. Billed as a public forum, the meeting was, in fact, controlled by opponents of the project. Misinformation was rampant and those wishing to speak in support of the project were silenced or shouted down. At the center of this proposal is a 1,200-acre farm site, of which 933 acres have been leased by the developer.

The founder of the local opposition group Saving Greene is a local landowner whose large home overlooks the proposed site. She handed out a map with inked-out areas it claimed to be destined for darkness. The leased site is completely blacked out. Yet the developer plans to use less than 400 acres for the solar arrays. The other two-thirds will remain in active farming or conservation.

Most important, in these difficult financial times for New York’s farmers, the owner says the lease of this portion of his land will allow him to retain ownership of the farm. In addition, the developer offers attractive financial benefits not just to the landowner but to the community as a whole. Developers of the Greene County Solar Facility have offered a $4-6 million payment package to the host community, local governments and school district, with the community to decide how best to use this economic benefit.

   It won’t be long before harvesting
   the sun is a recognized mainstay of
   the farming community.

 


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Made in NY? How can we foster voluntary corporate renewable energy buying in New York?

Made in NY? How can we foster voluntary corporate renewable energy buying in New York?

By Anne Reynolds

With the backdrop of United Nations VIPs clogging the streets of Manhattan, ACE NY hosted a breakfast panel discussion on corporate purchasing of renewable energy for Climate Week NYC to a standing-room only crowd. Richard Kauffman, New York’s Chair of Energy and Finance, set the context for the discussion, citing strong progress on renewables procurement by New York, including the draft RFP for offshore wind and reiterating NY’s intention to get this RFP finalized and released by the end of the year. (Exciting!). He also acknowledged the significant workload in getting renewable energy projects through the review and permitting process known as Article 10 and recognized the need to balance proper review with an efficient and timely process. Hopefully, New York will have more progress to report on Article 10 in the coming months.

Mr. Kauffman then outlined a “trial balloon” to get the conversation rolling: If the major barrier to getting renewables bought in NY vs. other states was a higher price for Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), what if the state played a role in bringing down the price for voluntary purchases by a competitive auction and a public contribution to help make up the difference? An interesting idea.

Kara Allen of NYSERDA was a gracious moderator and began by asking our panelists to outline the benefits of voluntary renewable energy purchasing.  In response, Harry Singh of Goldman & Sachs cited their corporate sustainability goals, the interest in a possible hedge of energy prices, and the desire to have the procurement be related to their own load, i.e. near their footprint. While Goldman explored a deal in New York, it ultimately went with a wind project in Pennsylvania, mostly due to costs. For Cornell University, panelist Sarah Zemanick also cited sustainability goals, but also mentioned student and faculty demand for clean energy and the desire for a living laboratory – i.e. opportunities for research or education.  In the case of Cornell, there is also an interest in distributed projects that can be located on or near campus and offset their current campus-based fossil fuel electricity generation.

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ACE NY Excited to be Part of Million Solar Strong New York Coalition

ACE NY Excited to be Part of Million Solar Strong New York Coalition

 

ACE NY is excited to be part of the Million Solar Strong New York Coalition, a diverse mix of industry, environmental, justice and community organizations all united by the vision of a strong clean energy economy that works for all New Yorkers. We are committed to giving everyone a voice in energy decision-making.

Together, we are calling on Governor Cuomo to build a #SolarStrongNY by powering one million New York homes by 2023, which must include serving at least 100,000 low income households with affordable local solar, as well as renters and others who can’t otherwise go solar on their own rooftop.

This kind of bold solar leadership will create good local jobs, help New Yorkers save on utility bills, and reduce harmful emissions, while reducing inequality. Now more than ever, states can and must lead when it comes to climate and clean energy progress. We think that leadership should start right here in New York.

 
To achieve 50% renewable energy, New York is going to need new grid-scale wind and solar power, and continued investment in residential and community renewables, like solar. Both are critical to New York achieving success.
 
One million solar households is a bold but achievable clean energy goal. Visit SolarStrongNY.org to learn more about our policy roadmap for building a stronger, solar-powered New York.
 
On Tuesday, September 18th, join us to Rally for a Million Solar Strong on the Million Dollar Staircase in the NYS Capitol. 
 
What: Rally for a Million Solar Strong & Petition Delivery 
When: Tuesday, September 18th, 12PM
Where: NYS Capitol Building, Million Dollar Staircase
Who: NYS Elected Officials, Solar Industry Representatives, MSS Campaign Members, Home Owners, Home Renters, Housing Developers and Business Owners 
 
RSVPand share on Facebook!