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Industry News

New York Approves Clean Energy Standard Targeting 50 Percent Renewables by 2030

LCG, August 3, 2016--The Governor of New York Monday announced the New York State Public Service Commission's approval of New York's Clean Energy Standard that is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to develop a diverse and reliable energy supply portfolio. The Clean Energy Standard will require 50 percent of New York's electricity to come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030, with an aggressive phase in schedule over the next several years. In its initial phase, utilities and other energy suppliers will be required to procure and phase in new renewable power resources starting with 26.31 percent of the state's total electricity load in 2017 and grow to 30.54 percent of the statewide total in 2021. The Clean Energy Standard includes provisions to support continued operations of existing, upstate nuclear power plants.

The Governor stated, "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. This Clean Energy Standard shows you can generate the power necessary for supporting the modern economy while combatting 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 50 percent renewable mandate is designed to achieve a 40 percent reduction (from 1990 levels) in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

The Clean Energy Standard will require utilities and other energy suppliers to obtain a targeted number of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) each year. These credits will be paid to renewable developers to help finance new renewable energy sources that will be added to the electric grid.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) Chair stated, "Through the Clean Energy Standard, New York will be attracting billions of dollars in private investment for new renewable power supplies, developing new jobs and new green choices for consumers. CES adoption will bring numerous benefits to consumers, including a reduction in carbon and other harmful pollutants, and continued maintenance of fuel diversity. It is a crucial addition to the Commission's actions under Reforming the Energy Vision to integrate clean energy into the fabric of a modern, efficient and secure power system. New York is now on its way to '50 by 30' and even more renewable power will be within our reach."

To achieve the reduced emissions by 2030, the Clean Energy standard relies on maintaining the zero-emission nuclear power plants in upstate New York. Starting in April 2017, the Clean Energy Standard requires all six New York investor-owned utilities and other energy suppliers to pay for the intrinsic value of carbon-free emissions from nuclear power plants by purchasing Zero-Emission Credits (ZECs). The New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority are also expected to adopt the same requirements. This will allow financially-struggling upstate nuclear power plants to remain in operation during New York's transition to 50 percent renewables by 2030.

The Order states, "Based on current market conditions, losing the carbon-free attributes of this generation before the development of new renewable resources between now and 2030, would undoubtedly result in significantly increased air emissions due to heavier reliance on existing fossil-fueled plants or the construction of new gas plants to replace the supplanted energy. The added emissions would complicate the State's compliance with likely federal carbon standards and would result in dangerously higher reliance on natural gas, radically reducing the State's fuel diversity. Such reduced fuel diversity could affect system reliability and price stability, making consumers more vulnerable to natural gas and concomitant electric price spikes. The loss would also have other significant adverse economic impacts on State energy consumers and the State as a whole. New York can look to another leader in renewable power - Germany - for a lesson in the unintended consequences of losing zero- emissions attributes from all its nuclear plants. Germany's abrupt closure of all its nuclear plants resulted in a large increase in the use of coal, causing total carbon emissions to rise despite an aggressive increase in solar generation."

The Clean Energy Standard includes other directives to reach the 50 by 2030 mandate. For example, the PSC will promote and support maximum expansion of energy efficiency wherever possible and evaluate the creation of renewable heating and cooling technologies such as geothermal heat pumps. The PSC Staff will also work with the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and other stakeholders to ensure that necessary investments are made in storage, transmission and other technologies to secure a reliable electric system.

System reliability challenges associated with the Clean Energy Standard identified by the NYISO include: (i) additional transmission capability necessary to reliably transport energy from renewable resources developed in remote areas, mainly western and northern New York, to New York's southeast load centers, (ii) additional energy and ancillary service requirements necessary to maintain system reliability with the level of intermittent resource penetration required by the CES, and (iii) the State's resource adequacy requirements resulting from the significant additional intermittent resource penetration required by the CES.
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