What Are The Renewable Energy Goals In New York State?

What are the renewable energy goals in New York State?

New York State has set ambitious goals for renewable energy and a transition to a clean energy economy. Today, New York generates one of the highest amounts of renewable electricity of any state east of the Mississippi River (https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=NY). With its abundant wind, solar, hydropower, and geothermal resources, New York aims to generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 as part of its nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/Impact-Renewable-Energy). This transition is expected to bring major economic, health, and environmental benefits to the state while combating climate change.

History of Renewable Energy Goals

New York has been working to increase renewable energy usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for over two decades. In 1998, the state passed legislation establishing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to help stimulate markets for renewable energy generation. The initial RPS goal was to increase renewable energy used by the state’s utilities to 25% by 2013.

In 2004, the RPS goal was raised, requiring the state to meet 25% of its electricity needs through renewable sources by 2008. New York successfully met and exceeded this target. According to NYSERDA, 30% of the state’s electricity came from renewable sources by 2015.

A major expansion of the RPS came in 2015 under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming Energy Vision (REV) initiative, which committed the state to generating 50% of its power from renewable sources by 2030. Additionally, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act passed in 2019 mandated a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2040.

These ambitious renewable energy goals have made New York a national leader in clean energy policy.

Current Renewable Portfolio Standard

New York State set a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal of 50% renewable electricity by 2030 as part of the Clean Energy Standard enacted in 2016. The RPS requires that a certain percentage of the electricity sold by utilities and energy service companies in the state comes from renewable resources like wind and solar.

The current RPS target is for at least 70% of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2030. This goal was increased from 50% to 70% through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act passed in 2019 (1). The state provides financial support for renewable energy development through programs like NY-Sun for solar power and procurements for large-scale renewables like offshore wind.

To meet RPS targets, electricity suppliers must obtain renewable energy credits (RECs) for the renewable electricity they procure or generate. NYSERDA utilizes RECs and zero emission credits (ZECs) to encourage renewable energy growth while ensuring compliance with the Clean Energy Standard (2).

(1) https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Clean-Energy-Standard/Clean-Energy-Standard-Resources/Renewable-Portfolio-Standard

(2) https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Clean-Energy-Standard

Offshore Wind Goals

New York State has set ambitious goals for offshore wind energy capacity. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the state is aiming to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035.

This goal was first established by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2018 State of the State address. The state later passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019 which codified the 9,000 megawatt offshore wind target into law.

To reach the 2035 target, NYSERDA has established an Offshore Wind Master Plan that schedules solicitations for offshore wind projects in 2023, 2025, and 2027. Each solicitation will aim to award 1,000 – 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity.

The first solicitation took place in 2018 and awarded 1,700 megawatts. The second solicitation was held in 2021 and awarded an additional 2,500 megawatts. Upcoming solicitations will be key to reaching the state’s 9,000 megawatt goal.

NYSERDA states that reaching 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind has the potential to power up to 6 million homes and bring economic development and jobs to New York.

Solar Energy Goals

New York State has set ambitious goals for increasing solar energy capacity. The state’s Clean Energy Standard mandates that 50% of electricity come from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030. To help reach this goal, New York aims to install 6 gigawatts of distributed solar capacity by 2025, enough to power over 1 million homes.

New York City has even more aggressive solar targets, aiming for 1,000 megawatts of solar capacity by 2030 according to the NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice (https://climate.cityofnewyork.us/subtopics/solar-and-storage/). This is enough to power 250,000 homes with clean solar energy.

The New York Power Authority recently announced a major new investment to advance community solar projects upstate as part of meeting the state’s climate goals, saying “Achieving New York’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals requires historic investments in renewable energy.” (https://www.nypa.gov/news/press-releases/2023/20230419-solar-energy-upstate)

Other Renewable Energy Goals

In addition to major goals for offshore wind and solar power, New York has targets for other renewable energy sources like onshore wind, hydropower, and biomass energy. The state aims to procure 4,000 MW of new onshore wind power by 2035 as part of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) [1]. The CLCPA also calls for 3,000 MW of energy storage capacity like batteries and pumped hydro by 2030 to help enable further renewable energy growth [2].

For hydropower specifically, New York has a goal to upgrade and expand existing hydropower plants to increase capacity by at least 850 MW by 2025. The state also aims to obtain new hydropower resources like importing clean Canadian hydropower [3]. Additionally, New York plans to procure more than $1 billion in new renewable energy, including at least $400 million for offshore wind, under the NY-Sun initiative focused on scaling up solar power across the state.

Financial Incentives

New York State offers various financial incentives to support the growth of renewable energy, particularly solar power. The main incentives are rebates and tax credits aimed at making solar more affordable for homeowners and businesses.

The NY-Sun initiative provides rebates and financing options for residential solar through the NYSERDA. Rebates are provided through the Megawatt Block structure, which provides incentives in blocks until the state hits its solar target goals. Homeowners can receive rebates covering up to 25% of installation costs.

New York also offers a state solar tax credit covering 25% of the total system cost, up to $5,000. This credit can be combined with the federal solar tax credit. Businesses installing solar may qualify for accelerated depreciation.

According to the NYSERDA, over $1 billion in incentives have been provided to over 130,000 homeowners and businesses to install solar across the state [1].

Job Creation Potential

New York’s transition to renewable energy is expected to generate a significant number of new jobs. According to a 2022 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), New York has the potential to create over 150,000 new renewable energy jobs by 2030 if the state meets its clean energy targets. Most of these new jobs would be in sectors like solar, energy efficiency, grid modernization and electrification.

As of November 2022, New York had nearly 171,000 clean energy workers, representing an increase of 5,800 jobs since 2021. This growth is being driven by major renewable energy projects like offshore wind farms, as well as policies and incentives aimed at accelerating the transition. The state’s Climate Act mandates New York get 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in the same timeframe. To reach these ambitious goals, billions of dollars will need to be invested in clean energy infrastructure, creating a steady stream of new jobs.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) projected in 2021 that over 200,000 New Yorkers could be employed in the clean energy sector by 2030. Most of these new jobs are expected to pay well, require some technical training, and represent areas of workforce growth compared to declining fossil fuel industries. Capturing these opportunities will require strategic policies and investments in workforce training programs. Overall, New York is poised to be a national leader in renewable energy job creation this decade.

Environmental Benefits

New York’s ambitious renewable energy goals aim to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution across the state. According to the NYSERDA, increasing renewable electricity to 70% by 2030 could reduce emissions by 60 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking over 1 million cars off the road. Other benefits include cleaner air, improved public health due to less pollution, and more sustainable land use.

Renewable energy emits little to no greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuel power plants. Each megawatt-hour of renewable electricity avoids nearly 1 ton of carbon dioxide emissions. With offshore wind, solar, and hydropower expanding rapidly, New York’s carbon footprint from the electricity sector will shrink dramatically. This is a key strategy for meeting the state’s economy-wide target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Fossil fuel power plants also emit harmful air pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. These contribute to smog, acid rain, respiratory diseases, and other public health issues. Phasing out coal and gas plants for renewable energy will significantly improve air quality across New York. The NY Green Bank estimates that air quality benefits alone could be worth $2.7 billion by 2030 under the state’s renewable energy goals.

Challenges and Critiques

New York faces significant challenges in meeting its ambitious renewable energy goals. According to a recent article in E&E News, the state is at risk of falling short of its target for renewable energy to supply 24% of its electricity by 2030 [1]. Several large-scale wind and solar projects have been canceled or delayed due to rising costs and supply chain issues. The article notes this could jeopardize New York’s timeline for transitioning away from fossil fuels.

Some critics argue New York’s renewable portfolio standard is unrealistic and overreaching. The goals call for 70% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, and 100% emissions-free electricity by 2040 [2]. However, building enough solar, wind, and transmission to reach these targets will likely require massive investments. There are concerns renewable energy prices could spike for consumers if supply falters or subsidies are phased out.

The Cuomo administration and state agencies have also faced criticism for a lack of transparency and proper planning around renewable projects. Permitting and siting of large solar and wind developments has proven contentious in some communities. This highlights the need for inclusive public engagement and balancing environmental goals with local impacts.

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