The New York Public Service Commission approved an ambitious 50% renewable energy target this week, which also includes subsidies for the state’s nuclear capacity.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Clean Energy Standard on Monday, approved by the state’s Public Service Commission, which he described as “the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state’s history.” New York’s new Clean Energy Standard will “fight climate change, reduce harmful air pollution, and ensure a diverse and reliable energy supply.”
Specifically, the Clean Energy Standard will require 50% of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030 — accompanied by “an aggressive phase in schedule over the next several years.”
“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.”
“The solar industry applauds Governor Cuomo and the New York Public Service Commission, chaired by Audrey Zibelman, for their bold efforts to transform New York into a clean energy powerhouse,” added Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Based on today’s Commission session, a 50 percent Clean Energy Standard (CES) is a huge win for New Yorkers, and solar power is going to be key in making this win a reality.”
In addition to a priority on acquiring more electricity from renewable energy sources, however, was the somewhat hidden news that the Clean Energy Standard will also subsidize New York’s upstate nuclear facilities. According to the Public Service Commission, New York’s upstate nuclear plants currently avoid the emission of over 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, and “Based on current market conditions, losing the carbon-free attributes of this generation before the development of new renewable sources between now and 2030, would undoubtedly result in significantly increased air emissions due to heavier reliance on existing fossil-fueled plants.” The Commission pointed to Germany’s abrupt closure of its nuclear power plants and the resulting reliance upon coal, which caused “total carbon emissions to rise despite an aggressive increase in solar generation.”
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