BLOG

49 Groups' (Energy Efficiency) Love Letter to Gov. Cuomo

49 Groups’ (Energy Efficiency) Love Letter to Gov. Cuomo

Re-posted from the NRDC Expert Blog

By Sneha Ayyagari and Jackson Morris

This Valentine’s day, NRDC, along with 48 organizations, sent a letter to Governor Cuomo expressing support for energy efficiency and urging him to show his love for clean energy jobs and fighting climate change by adopting a nation-leading energy efficiency plan that is as ambitious and equitable as possible. In his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo promised to release a “comprehensive and far reaching energy efficiency initiative by Earth Day, April 22,” including a new 2025 energy efficiency target. The letter signatories, which included environmental organizations, labor organizations, building industry companies and advocates, and environmental justice groups, expressed support for the Governor’s vision and urged him to follow through with aggressive actions to boost energy efficiency in the State.

The coalition  has come together to support this clean energy resource because of its many diverse benefits: lower utility bills, reduced carbon and other harmful pollution; new, local jobs for New Yorkers; and, a more reliable electric grid. Investment in efficiency is cost-effective and furthers the avoidance of expensive grid investments. It is a critical tool in the fight against climate change, improves air quality and public health, and can help address energy affordability. As explained in a previous blog, setting ambitious targets to increase energy efficiency is essential to goals such as reaching 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and closing the Indian Point nuclear plant without increasing carbon emissions.

New York’s utility regulator, the Department of Public Service (DPS), is working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to engage utilities, efficiency companies, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders to implement the Governor’s plans to develop a comprehensive energy efficiency initiative. Leading up to Earth Day, DPS and NYSERDA have organized two roundtable discussions on February 23rd and March 5th to get input on a range of energy efficiency policies and programs. NRDC has advocated for a strong, comprehensive statewide energy efficiency program, and will be actively engaged in these discussions along with other signatories of the letter to make sure the governor’s initiative realizes the incredible potential New York has to become a leader on energy efficiency.

Read More

New Year, New Energy

New Year, New Energy

By Jeff Jones

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State address featured his Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Agenda, a plan that will keep New York moving forward as a national leader on energy and climate policy. Let’s welcome in the New Year by taking a moment to look broadly – both nationally and in New York - at where the electricity sector stands. 

First, the market: In large parts of the US, it is cheaper to build new wind and solar than new coal, and in some cases cheaper than natural gas. In a recent survey published in Utility Dive, Energy Innovation’s policy expert Sonia Aggarwal reached the conclusion that the industry’s competitive dynamic “completely flipped” in 2017.  Merchant coal plants in Texas and Massachusetts are retiring, unable to compete with natural gas and renewables, she reports, while utilities in Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota are planning early shutdowns of coal. And in spite of the federal government’s actions to shut down the Clean Power Plan, three-quarters of the states will meet their CPP targets.

Globally, the growth in renewables is adding unexpected amounts of clean power in a world with flat or even declining demand. This power has zero marginal cost and is driving down wholesale prices. Customers win, the environment wins, and investors in renewables win.

Second, the federal government: The Washington Post recently described the new Republican tax law as a “windfall for [the] oil and gas industry”. Fossil fuel interests will reap billions in tax savings, including for capital expenditures. The cut in the corporate tax rate may add 5 percent to the earnings of Exxon Mobil and 23 percent to oil refiners’ earnings. Opening portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration was another victory for big oil after a bitter 20-year fight, as would be reopening offshore waters to oil and gas exploration and development. Indeed, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently announced the federal government’s intention to open over 90 percent of the National Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration and leasing. By contrast, current policy puts 94 percent of OCS off limits. The Zinke program proposes the largest number of lease sales in U.S. history.

Read More

Slanted GateHouse Media Story Omits Most People's Experience of Life Near Wind Farms

Slanted GateHouse Media story omits most people’s experience of life near wind farms

Re-posted from In to the Wind: The AWEA Blog 

If all you knew about the beach was what you saw in the movie “Jaws,” you’d never go. Yet 58 million Americans a year go to the shore. 

Context matters. And that’s exactly what is lacking in a recent report by GateHouse Media (In the Shadow of Wind Farms) that amplifies the complaints of a small number of the millions of Americans living near wind farms, while downplaying the vast majority who welcome the benefits of a new cash crop for rural America. 

GateHouse appears to have set out to write a negative story about wind energy. First their reporter probed the idea that foreign companies were buying up American cropland. (They aren’t. Farmers keep their land and get lease income.) GateHouse then was fed anecdotal reports by opponents of wind farms online, while declining multiple offers to interview people satisfied with their local wind farm. 

For nearly six months, both AWEA and wind developers responded to pointed questions and offered much-needed context to the GateHouse reporters. When offered positive accounts of wind farms in rural America, however, we were told they wouldn’t be included because the story of positive experiences had already been written.

Read More

In the Shadow of Wind Farms

In the Shadow of Wind Farms

Words can fuel perceived health impacts of wind turbines

Re-posted from Into the Wind: The AWEA Blog

Do you have sores on your feet? Is your hair turning grey? You may live near a wind turbine. Or at least that’s what certain stories you can find on the Internet would have you believe – that wind turbines cause health problems. In reality, tens of millions of people comfortably live near wind projects around the globe with no ill effects, as shown in testimonials which can also be seen online.

In the U.S. alone, 20 million people live in counties with wind turbines. And 25 scientific reviews since 2003 back up their safety. That doesn’t mean that a few people don’t complain about living near wind turbines, but a new book sheds light on what’s behind many of those complaints.

Simon Chapman, emeritus professor of Public Health at The University of Sydney, has just published an important and well-timed book. In “Wind Turbine Syndrome – a communicated disease,” Chapman and his co-author Fiona Crichton focus on noise and health objections to wind farms in Australia. The findings are relevant to the U.S., as anti-wind energy groups are increasingly employing scare tactics to misinform the public. That misinformation can cause real anxiety and worry, and it isn’t fair to the people affected.

Read More

How Clean Energy Standards Are Shaping Up in NY

How Clean Energy Standards Are Shaping Up in NY


At a recent gathering of the Public Utility Law section of the New York State Bar Association, ACE NY Executive Director Anne Reynolds spoke on the renewable energy panel, along with John Williams of NYSERDA and Gavin Donahue of the Independent Power Producers. Anne’s role to was to provide the renewable energy developers’ perspective on the Clean Energy Standard and how it is shaping up in New York.

As enthusiastic supporters of New York’s 50% Renewable Energy Standard, ACE NY highlights the jobs creation, the economic investment, and climate change benefits of new renewable energy development, and the great potential in NY for wind, solar, and offshore wind development. ACE NY members are optimistic about development opportunities in NYS and are following the State’s procurement processes with keen interest.  At the same time, Anne discussed the risky development process and the challenges to project development: a lengthy and uncertain Article 10 process; an equally lengthy and expensive interconnection process at the NYISO; and the need for local tax agreements and community support.

 

More broadly than individual projects, the potential need for new transmission investments to make achievement of 50% renewables more cost-effective could prove to be a challenge in New York as well. New York agencies, especially the Department of Public Service, need to set a priority of timely and efficient Article 10 and Article 7 processes in order to support the State’s ambitious renewable energy and climate goals. This may mean additional human resources at DPS as well as attention to ways to streamline the process. 

Watch Anne's presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTMK5rdCzuo

Making the Case for Energy Efficiency

Making the Case for Energy Efficiency

It can be tough to get the ear of a policymaker. One of the best ways is by sharing stories of how their work can affect real people. Our “Faces of EE” initiative collects photos and testimonials of energy efficiency workers across the U.S. Faces of EE promotes the fact that “EE” means more than clean air and a stable grid; it means jobs and economic growth.

 

Showing policymakers real people’s stories helps ensure that these voices are heard. We also provide opportunities for EE professionals to meet with members of Congress to educate and advocate for smart energy policy.

In mid-2017, E4TheFuture launched Faces of EE to illuminate the broad reach and impact of this vital industry’s workforce. From insulation installers to HVAC experts, from program managers to technicians, we are revealing an industry with clout as well as heart. More than 300 energy efficiency professionals appeared in the first “flash” at a Nashville HPC conference. I am thrilled to say we will double that number before the new year. (Meet them on Twitter @FacesofEE.)

Read More

Equitable Access to Clean Energy in New York at Climate Week

Equitable Access to Clean Energy in New York at Climate Week

Re-posted from the NRDC Expert Blog

By Samantha Wilt, Energy Policy Analyst Energy and Transportation Program, Natural Resources Defense Council

As our country and others throughout the hemisphere reel from this record-breaking hurricane season, United Nations Climate Week that took place last month in New York City was never more timely or important. NRDC along with our partner groups, New Yorkers for Clean PowerEnvironmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, hosted a forum titled Clean Energy for All: Access and Equity in New York’s Clean Energy Transition, featuring speakers from the Association for Energy AffordabilityBlocPowerCon EdisonSolar One, and WE ACT. There were also introductory remarks from John Rhodes, Chairman of the New York Public Service Commission and former president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), outlining many of the broad efforts the state has underway to meet our ambitious clean energy goals, such as the requirement that 50% of New York’s electric needs be met by renewable resources by 2030.

 

 

Read More

2017 Legislative Session: Recap

2017 Legislative Session: Recap

The 2017 NYS legislative session officially concluded in June and legislators have headed home to their districts. With the Legislature on an extended break, this is a good time to catch our breath and report on what turned out to be a busy 2017 Legislative Session for ACE NY.

 

Coupled with advocating on a number of budget and legislative issues, ACE NY issued 10 memos of support and five memos of opposition on bills over the course of the legislative session. We are happy to report that two of the bills we worked on passed both houses and will soon be headed for the Governor’s desk. ACE NY will work directly with our partners and other stakeholders to weigh-in with the Governor in support of these measures.

 

  • Energy Storage Deployment Program (A.657/S.5190): This bill directs the PSC to set targets for the implementation of storage systems by 2030.
  • Property Tax Exemption (A.260/S.4069): This bill allows for a property tax exemption for micro-hydro, fuel cells, CHP and storage systems. Localities have the option to opt out.

Other highlights of the session include the following bills:

Read More

50% Renewable Energy: Things Just Got Real

50% Renewable Energy: Things Just Got Real


By Anne Reynolds, Executive Director

It can be a long road from the announcement of any exciting new policy — like New York’s 50% by 2030 Renewable Energy Standard — to on-the-ground results. In this case, the results will look like new wind turbines spinning and new grid-scale solar projects generating power.

New York took a big step down that road today when the State released its first call for projects under the new 50% goal, soliciting 2.5 million MWhs of renewable energy generation. For the folks trying to develop and build wind and solar projects in our state, things just got real.


This solicitation, calls for bids from renewable energy developers - wind, solar, hydropower, fuel cells, or sustainable biomass. The projects will compete for contracts that will allow them to get financed and built. Each bid will be evaluated on price, so that New York can strike the best deal for electricity customers. But other factors will be considered too, such as diversity of projects, local economic benefits, or a project’s ability to produce power at times of peak demand. 

With today’s announcement, New York offers a striking contrast to President Trump's misguided decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords, and instead focuses on creating new jobs and investment in clean energy. NYSERDA will be purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) for 1.5 million megawatt-hours (MWhrs) of electricity per year. It would take roughly 580 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity to produce this much, but the winning portfolio will undoubtedly include a mix of technologies. The 2016 solicitation – the last under the old regime – awarded 11 contracts for a total 260 MW: two wind projects, one solar, one fuel cell, and seven hydro projects. 









Read More

ACE NY Clean Energy Advocacy Day

ACE NY Clean Energy Advocacy Day

ACE NY member companies and organizations spread across the Capitol last Tuesday for our annual Clean Energy Advocacy Day, completing sixty-seven visits with legislative offices and meeting with the Governor’s Assistant Secretary for Energy, Peter Olmsted, on just his second day on the job.

So much of NY’s energy policymaking happens at the Public Service Commission, or at another of the Governor’s agencies. Still, the Legislature has an important role to play, and can wield a strong voice on new ideas and policy issues. ACE NY needs to spread our message that investment from clean energy companies will bring New York cleaner electricity, new jobs, cleaner air, and climate action.

We spoke about jobs, and cited the 21,000+ solar, wind, and hydro jobs in New York, as well as the 110,000+ energy efficiency jobs that were reported by the U.S. DOE in January. And we spoke about how these numbers will increase as NY pursues the new 50% Renewable Energy Standard.

We voiced our enthusiastic support for the 50% Renewable Energy Standard (RES). In updating legislators, we mentioned some of the unfinished business surrounding the RES, like the need for a stronger Tier 2; the need for some procurement via power purchase agreements (PPAs); the need for a binding energy efficiency standard; and completion of the Offshore Wind Master Plan.

There were five bills we chose to highlight and support:

Read More