Last summer in New York, Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA is a piece of comprehensive climate legislation that sets aggressive clean energy and climate targets for the state. Focusing on the power sector, the clean energy targets include:
- 70 percent electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent emissions free electricity supply by 2040; and
- 6,000 MW solar energy installed by 2025, 3,000 MW energy storage capacity installed by 2030, and 9,000 MW offshore wind installed by 2035.
In the year since its inception, what progress has New York made to meet new clean energy targets? What challenges are still ahead?
Siting and Transmission
In June, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) published a white paper introducing an expanded Clean Energy Standard and outlining a framework for reaching 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is transitioning New York City from primarily fossil fuels to renewable resources. In New York City, siting and transmission are a challenge.
In April, the state passed the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, a budget act aiming to bolster work under the CLCPA by creating the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES). ORES will help streamline the siting and permit process for large-scale (over 25 MW) renewable projects by establishing uniform requirement standards and reviewing complete applications within a year. Under this act NYSERDA also has an incentive program targeting “build ready” sites as potential renewable project locations. Sites under this program could be previously developed and underutilized or have environmental restrictions (such as brownfields or landfills). The act also addressed the transmission issue, calling for a State Power Grid Study to advance the planning and development of transmission and distribution systems.
targeting “build ready” sites as potential renewable project locations. Sites under this program could be previously developed and underutilized or have environmental restrictions (such as brownfields or landfills). The act also addressed the transmission issue, calling for a State Power Grid Study to advance the planning and development of transmission and distribution systems.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed NYSERDA’s second offshore wind solicitation. Its first solicitation in 2018 resulted in NYSERDA contracting with two offshore wind projects last year with a combined capacity of almost 1.7 GW. After approval of the 2020 solicitation by the New York Public Service Commission in April, NYSERDA didn’t immediately move forward with plans to implement the solicitation midyear as expected due to COVID-19 related concerns. However, NYSERDA still plans to move forward with the solicitation of up to 2.5 GW this year. Maintaining progress through a steady solicitation schedule will be key for New York to reach the 9 GW offshore wind target mandated in the CLCPA. While there is currently enough existing leased offshore area to cover this second round of offshore wind, New York could face challenges for future rounds of solicitation if more offshore area isn’t leased from the U.S. government.
Given the nature of federal land leasing and offshore wind development, NYSERDA has to take a larger role in soliciting capacity. Solar power and energy storage on the other hand, are set to progress under a different approach. Solar and energy storage incentives are available on both commercial and residential levels. Additionally, utilities are required to procure a minimum of 350 MW of bulk-sited energy storage.
While the state and NYSERDA are making plans and incentives to drive renewable energy development and transmission in in New York, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are focused on the operation of the wholesale market. Earlier this year, NYISO proposed and FERC approved new buyer-side mitigation (BSM) rules in the capacity market that could hinder renewable growth (or make it more costly to meet the targets). Essentially, state-sponsored new renewables and storage will be forced to bid into the capacity market at higher prices than can clear, while fossil fuel plants’ bids will clear, even though the renewable resources’ bids would have cleared had they not received renewable energy credits. While the transition to a cleaner grid is still possible, this new BSM rule provides a tangible example of how challenging it can be to align the transition to clean power with NYISO’s responsibility to monitor the reliability of the system.
The successful interplay of New York utilities, developers, government agencies, NYISO, consumers, and more will be key to meet the clean energy targets laid out in the CLCPA. One year on, progress has been made in creating incentives programs, setting up new government offices to streamline practices, and adding new renewable capacity to the pipeline. Hopefully, some of the current hurdles like BSM and the lack for adequate transmission to downstate New York will be worked out sooner rather than later. Afterall, the first major target, 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030, is only a decade away.
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