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New York State to Order that 50% of Power Consumed by New Yorkers be from Renewable Sources by 2030

The Order, Part of New York's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Initiative, May Prevent or Delay the Closure of Upstate Nuclear Plants

Authors: Mike Murphy, John Paul, and Steve Gordon
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., November 24, 2015

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Update—Dec. 3, 2015: As discussed in this News Alert, on December 2 Governor Cuomo directed the New York State Department of Public Service to establish a Clean Energy Standard to provide 50% of the state’s energy from renewable resources by 2030.  The Governor also directed the NYSPSC to separately give attention and support to the need for emissions-free nuclear energy from upstate facilities, as an adjunct to the goals of the renewable energy standard.

Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Initiative:  The New York Times reports that Governor Cuomo will soon direct the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to take concrete steps to codify the State’s goal of generating 50% of all of New York's energy from renewables by 2030.  Publicly, state officials have devoted much of their attention to harnessing more energy from solar, wind and hydro resources, but wind and solar offer only intermittent power.  Thus, according to the Times, the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the years leading to 2030 may throw a life-line to the FitzPatrick and Ginna nuclear power plants in upstate New York.

This mandate would be a cornerstone of the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the State’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Initiative announced by Governor Cuomo in 2014.  REV has a broad set of aggressive goals, including: 

  • Developing an integrated, more efficient energy network;
  • Making energy more affordable for New Yorkers;
  • 50% generation from renewables by 2030;
  • 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 80% reduction by 2050;
  • 23% reduction in energy consumption in buildings by 2030;
  • Enhancing the resiliency of the energy system, in the wake of events like Superstorm Sandy.

State Energy Plan:  Several months ago, New York issued its new State Energy Plan. While prominently touting REV’s goals of enhancing renewable energy resources, the plan also recognizes the ongoing need for new, more efficient fossil fuel plants especially in New York City and on Long Island. In particular, the plan recognizes that facilities with dual-fuel capability (i.e., able to operate on natural gas and oil) are needed to protect against possible interruptions in natural gas supply. Thus, the State has not lost sight of its core obligation to ensure that New Yorkers enjoy access to safe and reliable electric service at just and reasonable rates. 

NYSERDA and NYSPSC Programs:  Several State agencies are taking steps to promote REV’s goals.  The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has commenced several programs like the NY Prize program designed to encourage local communities to embrace distributed energy and the development of microgrids that, during widespread outages, could serve critical local facilities like hospitals, emergency response facilities (fire, ambulance, etc.), schools, and municipal buildings.  

The NYSPSC has commenced a proceeding regarding the REV program, Case No. 14-M-0101, that ultimately could transform New York’s energy system.  At the outset, the agency identified the following key questions:

  • What should be the role of the distribution utilities in enabling system wide efficiency and market-based deployment of distributed energy resources and load management?
  • What changes can and should be made in the current regulatory, tariff, and market design and incentive structures in New York to better align utility interests with achieving our energy policy objectives?

In subsequent issuances, the NYSPSC has recognized that fundamental changes may be required in how it regulates utilities if the REV’s objectives are to be achieved.  

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is also pursuing projects that are consistent with the REV initiative.

We will provide additional insights into this NYSPSC proceeding and NYSERDA’s and NYPA's REV programs in the coming weeks and months.

Beveridge & Diamond counsels private and municipal clients on environmental review and local, state and federal permitting and regulatory compliance requirements associated with  the siting and development of renewable energy and fossil fuel generating facilities and transmission lines.  For more information, please contact the authors.

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