Andrew Cuomo

NYS Energy Symposium Shows Determination and Direction

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — The 12th annual Energy in the 21st Century Symposium, a forum for energy and energy policy practitioners in NY State, took place recently. This year’s  focus was “How Can We Reach Our Renewable Energy Goals?” There was an unspoken understanding in the room that the question held a deeper significance than it had a year earlier.

Speakers included NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Janet Joseph, VP of Innovation and Strategy at NYSERDA, David Mooney, NREL’s Director of Strategic Energy Analysis and Anne Reynolds, Director of Alliance for Clean Energy, NY. A tremendous amount of information was shared. We will attempt to hit a few of the highlights here.

Janet Joseph opened the proceedings with an assessment of that state’s progress to the ambitious goal under the NY Clean Energy Standard, of 50% renewable electricity by 2030, a 40% reduction in GHG levels from 1990, and a 23% decrease in building energy usage from 2012 levels. While the current 26% renewable share is definitely a feel-good number, the fact the most of that currently comes from hydro (think Niagara Falls) means that NY will need considerable additional growth in solar, wind and other renewables in order to meet that target. To reach the goal of nearly 35,000 GWh of renewables by 2030, will require exponential growth to continue at an accelerating pace, with about 40% of that expected to come from wind.

She then announced that NYSERDA would soon be releasing a solicitation for renewable energy, its largest ever. Included for the first time, will be funding for offshore wind (OSW) projects. The state has committed to developing 2.4 GW of offshore wind by 2030.  The state’s first offshore wind energy area, consisting of some 80,000 acres off the Long Island coast has been established. The solicitation will also include funds for renewable heating and cooling, such as ground source heat pumps. Joseph also talked about the rollout of NY’s Clean Energy Fund (CEF) a key pillar in the state’s energy transformation that will provide necessary funds for critical projects.

Finally, Joesph mentioned that the governor has authorized a study to find out what it would take for the state to reach 100% renewable power.

Alfred Griffin, President NY Green Bank spoke of some of their work with CEF. They have distributed approximately $1B in funding so far, with another $600 million worth of renewable projects in the pipeline. Most of the projects are loans against future revenues through Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and other similar arrangements.

GM Expands Its Commitment to Renewables

GM Global Renwable Manager Rob Threlkeld at Rochester Array(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Last week General Motors unveiled a new 466 kW solar array at its Rochester Operations plant in Rochester, New York. The array is expected to provide 570,420 kWh of electricity per year. According to Plant Manager Neal Evans, that’s approximately 3% of what the plant uses. The array is located in a parking lot which is no longer needed since the operation has downsized.

New York Announces a Statewide Ban on Fracking

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - On December 17th New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shook the world with the announcement with the Empire State was banning the practice of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, as it’s come to be known. The governor claims to have relied on the judgment of Health Commissioner Dr. Harold A. Zucker and Joseph Martens, the state environmental conservation commissioner, in making the call. “I am not a scientist,” said the governor. “ I’m not an environmental expert. I’m not a health expert. I’m a lawyer.  So let’s bring the emotion down, and let’s ask the qualified experts what their opinion is.”

Zucker said his decision boiled down to the question of whether he’d want his family living in a town where fracking was taking place. The answer was no.

Fracking has been credited for the huge boom in US oil and gas production, which has put it on a path to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer. But it has also been controversial, almost from the outset, with numerous complaints about health issues, fear of contaminated water supplies, large amounts of water consumption and earthquakes. Economic  impacts could potentially cover a wide swath of our economy starting with agriculture and tourism and extending outward from there. Yet drillers are protected by Federal law from disclosing, under the Safe Water Drinking Act, the contents of the “fracking fluids” they are injecting into the ground. This loophole was put in place by former Vice-President Dick Cheney, whose company Halliburton has been a major player in the fracking industry. This level of secrecy has done much to increase public suspicion of the process.

The domestic energy boom has helped to bring energy prices down which has helped to make American industry more globally competitive. It has also helped to accelerate the move away from coal on the part of many utility companies. Add to that the fact that it has reduced our dependence on imported oil, and you can see why so many were willing to overlook the potential health and environmental risks that have been associated with the practice.

New York Senate Passes Sweeping Solar Legislation in Unanimous Vote

The New York State Senate this week passed legislation that solidifies the state's long-term commitment to solar energy.

Governor Cuomo’s Big Nano-Adventure: New York Wins $4.4-Billion Nanotech Investment, But Is It Sustainable?

"This unprecedented private investment in New York's economy will create thousands of jobs." -- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, September 27, 2011

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