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N.Y. governor unveils $1.5 bil renewables plan; NYPA to play key role


From the June 5, 2017 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published June 2, 2017

By Paul Ciampoli
News Director

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 2 unveiled details on a new initiative under which New York state will make an investment of up to $1.5 billion in major renewable energy projects, including wind and solar, and significantly expand energy efficiency and solar installations at public buildings. The New York Power Authority will play a central role in the initiative.

The investment will result in an additional 2.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity a year, representing the largest clean energy procurement by a state in U.S. history, Cuomo’s office said in a June 2 news release.

Cuomo announced the Clean Climate Careers initiative following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. President Trump announced on June 1 that the U.S. will withdraw from the international climate accord that was reached in Paris, France, in 2015.

In partnership with the ILR School's Worker Institute at Cornell University and Climate Jobs NY, the initiative will focus “on accelerating energy efficiency and renewable energy growth to make New York a magnet for new energy technologies and creating 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020,” Cuomo’s office said.

New York is now poised to double the state’s solar capacity from roughly 800 megawatts today to more than 1,600 megawatts by the end of 2018.

Requests for proposals

Cuomo’s office said that on June 2, the state would issue requests for proposals from qualified developers to build renewable energy projects that will generate 2.5 million MWh of electricity a year.

Combined, the RFPs are the first in a series of major procurements and are expected to result in the development of 40 to 60 large scale renewable energy projects by 2022 under Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard, which has a target of achieving 50 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030.

The complementary solicitations by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the NYPA will invest up to $1.5 billion in wind, commercial solar and solar arrays, small and large-scale hydro, fuel cell and other technologies, the news release said.

Cuomo’s office said that the NYSERDA solicitation will procure 1.5 million MWh of electricity from renewable energy sources and the NYPA solicitation will procure an additional 1 million MWh.

“This investment in additional large-scale clean energy supplies will expand NYPA’s leadership role as the state’s largest supplier of renewable electricity,” the news release said.

In addition, the NYSERDA and NYPA solicitations “will lead to the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs from development, construction and operation of clean energy projects through 2022,” Cuomo’s office said.

NYPA to double annual investments in efficiency, solar deployments

Accelerating Cuomo’s BuildSmartNY and K-Solar initiatives, NYPA will double annual investments in energy efficiency and solar deployments from $150 million to $300 million.

Through K-Solar and BuildSmartNY, NYPA partners with solar and energy efficiency companies to provide turnkey solutions to its government customers, meaning local governments can easily receive design, construction management, commissioning, and financing services for their projects all at once.

The $300 million represents a mix of NYPA's low-cost financing and additional private sector capital.

NYPA has established a new partnership with a consortium of banks that will for the first time ever through NYPA allow municipalities to access low-cost capital from commercial banks to finance energy efficiency and solar projects.

Many local governments that are interested in energy efficiency projects and may not have previously qualified for financing will benefit from a more streamlined process and be able to obtain more competitive lending rates, Cuomo’s office said.

With this expanded investment, NYPA will conduct 1,000 energy efficiency and solar audits for municipalities and school districts by 2020 to help support prudent investments. The initiative will be available to all local governments and municipalities, which will have the opportunity to sign up and enrollment will be open before the end of 2017.

NYPA will also install more than 125 megawatts of solar capacity on schools and other public buildings by 2020, achieving a 300 percent increase in distributed solar projects at public facilities statewide.

The accelerated energy efficiency initiatives will create more than 2,000 new direct and indirect jobs, the press release said.

NYPA’s Quiniones: “Now is the time for renewable energy”

“Now is the time for renewable energy," said Gil Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. "Through this sweeping investment in clean and green energy projects and jobs, we are aggressively moving closer toward Governor Cuomo's Clean Energy Standard and pushing forward as a national leader,” he said.

“Through the largest-ever call for large-scale renewable projects, ramping up our investment in energy efficiency, and expanding use of renewable technologies, including solar, in schools and public buildings, we are spearheading transformative change throughout the industry. We are also ensuring that New York State’s energy mix is viable and affordable now and into the future," Quiniones went on to say.

Workforce development and environmental justice efforts

Cuomo’s office said that New York has committed $15 million to educators and trainers that partner with the clean energy industry and unions to offer training and apprenticeship opportunities.

“The funding will be distributed to the most innovative and far-reaching apprenticeship, training programs and partnerships including those with applicable trades and unions.  We expect the grants to cover the full spectrum of workforce training from education to apprenticeships to employment in the industry and trades,” the news release noted.

New York is committed to studying the feasibility of the types of economic efficiencies that can be achieved through the use of a project labor agreement, or PLA, for the construction of public work projects associated with the initiative, the news release said.  Use of a PLA for such public works could bring broad participation by New York State-registered apprentice programs and “can lead to new apprenticeship opportunities for a great many New Yorkers working in construction.”

The initiative also will establish an environmental justice and just transition working group to help historically underserved communities “prepare for a clean energy future and adapt to climate change,” the news release noted.

The working group will, among other things, advise the administration “on the integration of environmental justice and just transition principles into all agency policies.”

Cuomo signs executive order

Cuomo on June 1 signed an executive order to commit New York to uphold the standards set forth in the Paris Accord and announced a U.S. Climate Alliance, along with California Governor Jerry Brown and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, to convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement.

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