Distributed Energy Resources

New York governor outlines sweeping energy plans

In an effort aimed at expanding the Empire State’s plans to slash carbon dioxide emissions, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is setting a goal of adding 1,500 megawatts of energy storage by 2025, preparing solicitations for 800 MW of offshore wind and expanding the number of power plants covered by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Cuomo, a Democrat, unveiled his clean energy jobs and climate agenda during his state of the state speech Jan. 3 in Albany, New York.

The plan builds on various ongoing initiatives such as his Reforming the Energy Vision policy, which includes mandates to generate 50 percent of the state's electricity from renewable resources by 2030 while cutting GHG emissions from the energy sector by 40 percent below 1990 levels.

Cuomo said he sees energy storage as a key element in fostering renewable energy development and directed the NY Green Bank to spend at least $200 million to drive down storage costs and make sure resources are located where they can best help the grid.

The governor also ordered the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to spend at least $60 million to reduce barriers to deploying energy storage, including permitting, customer acquisition, interconnection and financing costs.

State energy agencies and authorities will work together to help spur a pipeline of storage projects through utility procurements by making regulatory changes in utility rates and wholesale energy markets and including storage into criteria for large scale renewable procurements, according to Cuomo.

To reach the state’s goal of adding 2,400 MW of offshore wind, Cuomo said New York plans to hold a solicitation this year and in 2019 for a total of 800 MW of offshore wind.

The solicitations will help make New York the leading offshore wind market in the United States and increase competition, reduce costs and create well-paying jobs, Cuomo said.

Cuomo directed NYSERDA and other agencies to explore ways to encourage public and private investments in New York’s ports and other infrastructure to support offshore wind.

On the issue of RGGI, a regional cap-and-trade program for power plants, Cuomo directed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to craft emissions regulations for peaking power plants that are under 25 MW and currently exempt from RGGI compliance.

The governor also pledged to work with Virginia and New Jersey officials to add the two states to the organization.

Cuomo called for state regulators to adopt rules that would end coal-fired generation in the state by 2020 and reduce emissions from peaking power plants.

New York’s coal-fired power plants produced 1.5 million megawatt hours in 2016, representing about 1 percent of the state’s total generation of 137.5 million MWh, according to a report by the New York Independent System Operator. In comparison, dual-fueled natural gas and oil generators accounted for 38 percent of total generation, followed by nuclear at 30 percent and hydroelectric at 19 percent. Wind and other renewables made up 5 percent of all generation in 2016.

In another initiative, NYSERDA will secure community solar subscriptions for low-income customers and provide them at zero cost to more than 10,000 low-income New Yorkers, Cuomo said. The agency will also work with low-income energy efficiency programs, utilities, community agencies, solar project developers, investors and other stakeholders to market the program to low-income customers.

Through the U.S. Climate Alliance, started by Cuomo and California Gov. Jerry Brown, the governor said he intends to reconvene the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, a group of scientists and stakeholders that was disbanded by the Trump administration.

To cut overall electricity use, Cuomo directed the New York Department of Public Service and NYSERDA to propose an energy efficiency initiative by April 22 that will include an energy efficiency target for 2025. NYSERDA will also develop appliance efficiency standards.