Cuomo Announces Clean Energy Initiative

On Tuesday, April 23 Gov. Cuomo announced his third solicitation for renewable energy projects, propelling the state closer to Cuomo’s goal of having 70 percent of state electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040.   

The solicitation was introduced under the New York State Clean Energy Standard, which is a New York State Energy Research and Development (NYSERDA) program. The projects from this solicitation are predicted to support 1.5 million megawatt hours of renewable energy per year, which could power over 200,000 homes. The solicitation is also projected to create over 1,000 short and long-term jobs for New Yorkers.  

“For the third year in a row, New York is continuing to lead by example when it comes to advancing large-scale renewable energy projects that will bring significant economic growth and good-paying jobs to the state,” Cuomo said in a press release. “This action builds on our strong commitment to renewable energy and will be a critical part of the state’s bold plan to meet the unprecedented challenges posed by climate change.”

A provision to the solicitation includes ensuring that the workers associated with any facility that receives awards from the state will be paid the applicable prevailing wage, which is a standard set by the New York State Department of Labor, in order to ensure that the projects will offer “good-paying jobs to New Yorkers.”

The solicitation also sets out to preserve and protect the state’s “valuable” agricultural resources and continue to encourage cost-effective projects that “pair renewable energy with advanced energy storage technologies to help meet Governor Cuomo’s commitments to deploy 1,500 megawatts of energy storage by 2025 and 3,000 megawatts by 2030.”

“I want to recognize the Cuomo administration for having the right idea to get New York to 70 percent renewable energy by 2030,” said the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition Coordinator Jess Mullen. “They have some great programs with NYSERDA energy efficiency that I’ve directly benefitted from-free energy audits, Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star, Empower New York and more. These programs have provided me funding for energy efficiency upgrades.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the benefits of renewable energy includes no production of greenhouse gases, reduction in some types of air pollution, reduction of the dependence on imported fuels, supporting economic development and creating jobs in manufacturing and installation. 

The obstacles for renewable energy installation includes price competitiveness and the fact that renewable energy installation is regulated under state control.  

The EPA reports New York to be among the top eight states which are ranked by the capacity of their installed solar power and represent 99.5 percent of all solar photovoltaic installations. The other seven states include California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, Nevada, Texas and Pennsylvania.  

However, Mullen said that more can be done at the state level. 

“There’s new fracked gas power plants being proposed and built around the state—this is exactly the opposite of what we need to be doing since it’s clear we are in a climate crisis,” Mullen said. “The United Kingdom parliament just declared a state of emergency on climate change on May first. Cuomo has the power to stop these projects.”