New York State will have to take multiple steps to increase renewable electricity generation to achieve the objectives of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Success will also require state agencies to consistently and proactively identify and address problems, continue streamlining permit and interconnection study procedures, and develop the necessary infrastructure to connect renewable projects to the grid and New Yorkers’ homes, according to a report issued Tuesday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“New York State has rightly pursued an aggressive campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the most dangerous impacts of climate change,” DiNapoli said. “New York’s energy goals are attainable, but require careful attention and management to address challenges, meet ambitious deadlines, and avoid future pitfalls.”
DiNapoli’s report found that renewable generators in New York would need to produce an additional 78,073 gigawatt hours above 2022 levels, an increase of over 200%, to reach the CLCPA’s 2030 goal of 70% renewable electricity consumption. The analysis is based on projections from the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO).
NYISO has also projected that the state would need to add 20 gigawatts of installed renewable capacity by 2030, which is triple the 2022 capacity of approximately 6.5 gigawatts. In the last 20 years, New York added 12.9 gigawatts of total electric generation, including both fossil fuel and renewable sources.
Prior state efforts to increase renewable energy were hindered by inconsistent funding, canceled projects, and delays that led to lengthy project timelines and failure to achieve targets.
The state has taken steps to address these challenges:
- Increased and consistent funding under the state’s Clean Energy Standard facilitated increases in the development of renewable electricity generation. Between 2017 and 2021, at least 1,100 megawatts of projects came under contract annually, compared to between 0 and 726 megawatts annually in the preceding years.
- The Department of State’s Office of Renewable Energy Siting was formed to streamline the permitting process, and the NYISO has also been improving the interconnection process to bring renewable electricity generation projects online more quickly. Continuing to improve the renewable electric project permitting and interconnection processes to allow for timely approvals, while ensuring community responsiveness and project impacts are mitigated, is critical to achieving the CLCPA goals.
The state will also face challenges given the volume and scale of new projects. The transmission capacity for connecting upstate regions to New York City is limited and renewable facilities in some upstate regions are already being forced to curtail generation due to transmission constraints. Significant new electric transmission infrastructure is needed to allow for the transmission of renewable electricity to customers throughout the state, including interconnect offshore wind projects and additional export capacity from Long Island, and bulk transmission connecting New York City and Long Island to upstate.
The costs of incentives to encourage renewable siting and the costs of transmission projects approved by the Public Service Commission are borne almost exclusively by New York’s utility customers. The state should make every effort to clearly identify how these costs will affect consumer electric bills and must hold down these costs to the state’s electric customers.
Where New York Ranks
In 2020, New York produced 124,912-gigawatt hours of renewable energy, ranking 6th in the nation. This figure includes both renewable fuels, such as biodiesel, and renewable electricity sources, including hydropower, solar, and wind. New York was 3rd in the nation after Washington and Oregon in the generation of hydroelectric power, 10th in generation of solar electricity, and 18th in generation of electricity with wind.
As of 2022, approximately 29% of the electricity generated in the state came from renewable sources. Of this renewable generation, roughly 75% came from hydroelectric generation, with the remaining 25% primarily split between wind and solar.