New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that the New York State Public Service Commission has approved the Empire State’s clean energy standard requiring 50 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by 2030. The renewable energy standard will be an important touchstone towards meeting the state’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent (from 1990 levels) by 2030 and by 80 percent by 2050.
“New York has taken bold action to become a national leader in the clean energy economy and is taking concrete, cost-effective steps today to safeguard this state’s environment for decades to come,” Governor Cuomo said. “This Clean Energy Standard shows you can generate the power necessary for supporting the modern economy while combating climate change. Make no mistake, this is a very real threat that continues to grow by the day and I urge all other states to join us in this fight for our very future.”
Environment New York praised the announcement. In a statement, Heather Leibowitz, the organization’s director, said that “moving forward with the Clean Energy Standard makes it much more likely that New York can ramp up solar and onshore and offshore wind, to meet the Empire State’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions. This means cleaner air for families, less global warming pollution, more stable electricity bills, and a stronger economy.”
However, it should be noted that nuclear power is a major component of the plan. Three of the state’s nuclear power plants will be subsidized as a way to avoid new carbon pollution during the transition period. Utilities will pay nearly $1 billion over two years to keep the nuclear power plants operational.
The state is starting aggressively, with a renewables target of 26.31 percent of the state’s total electricity load in 2017 and growing to 30.54 percent of the statewide total in 2021. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, nearly 23 percent of the state’s power currently comes from renewable sources.