49 New York Legislators Urge Massive State-Led Clean Energy Buildout As NY Falls Behind On Climate Goals

December 11, 2023

18 State Senators and 31 Assemblymembers released a letter today urging Governor Kathy Hochul to direct the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to commit to the ambitious clean energy buildout mandated by the Build Public Renewables Act.

To reach New York’s 2030 climate targets. The letter, led by Sen. Michael Gianaris in the Senate and AM. Sarahana Shrestha in the Assembly, comes a week after a report commissioned by the Public Power New York coalition found that the current market-based strategy will fail to meet the state’s goals.

“As investor-owned utilities hike energy bills across the state, it’s clear that New Yorkers need a just transition that lowers energy costs and creates good union jobs,” said Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha (AD 103, Mid-Hudson Valley). “In my district in the Mid-Hudson Valley, residential utility arrears grew by 1,044% to $96 million alone. Unleashing the New York Power Authority gives us a historic opportunity to not only meet our renewable targets where the private developers can’t, but to do so in a way that prioritizes need over profits, lowers bills, and invests the benefits of renewables back into our communities. My constituents are tired of for-profit energy and are eager for the Build Public Renewables Act to be implemented to its full potential.”

The letter also comes amidst concerns that Hochul and her appointed CEO of NYPA, Justin Driscoll, are not serious about fulfilling NYPA’s legal mandate to ensure New York achieves its climate goals.

This is evidenced by several glaring issues with NYPA’s first conferral report on the process, including:

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  • The report overwhelmingly cites press releases and announcements about initial project awards as evidence that New York is on track to meet its climate targets, and fails to consider how historic interconnection and project completion rates make it unlikely all of those projects will actually deliver the energy they promise. These concerns were borne out today as 27 projects totaling 3 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity were canceled. 
  • The report also does not consider how the growth of energy demand might change the amount of energy required to meet our 70% renewable by 2030 targets. 

“…the private sector will fail to meet the state-mandated target of 70%…”

Meanwhile, a new report commissioned by Public Power New York shows the private sector will fail to meet the state-mandated target of 70% renewable energy in seven years, even in the most optimistic scenarios. The report’s findings underscore the importance of using the New York Power Authority’s new powers granted by the Build Public Renewables Act earlier this year to close the gap, as required by the law. According to the report:

  • New York is expected to fall between 15,000 and 42,000 gigawatt-hours short of the renewable energy it needs to meet the state’s mandate of 70% renewables by 2030. This would mean a buildout of as little as 32% of the renewables needed to meet these goals — or in an unlikely best case scenario, 73%. 
  • Public entities like NYPA have unique benefits and advantages compared to the private sector in terms of achieving a just energy transition with recent federal and state policies having significantly expanded the possibilities for a public renewables buildout. 
  • The “public sector involvement is vital for achieving New York’s ambitious renewable energy targets.”

The danger of missing our climate targets without an ambitious NYPA clean energy buildout is sparking renewed pressure from everyday New Yorkers, as well. Just last week more than 100 New Yorkers made calls to the Governor’s office demanding that Hochul and Driscoll stop stifling NYPA and unleash the authority’s full powers to build the maximum amount of clean energy needed. 

As the PPNY report notes, the ongoing failure of the private sector to build the renewable energy New York needs to halt climate change and protect our air and water for generations to come only reinforces the vital role NYPA can play in building a livable and sustainable future. NYPA’s gold-standard union labor requirements under the Build Public Renewables Act also make it a powerful engine for economic growth and development of New York’s energy sector at large. And rather than funneling the benefits to private shareholders, NYPA is able to pass along savings and benefits to New Yorkers by lowering utility bills.

With New York’s energy transition at stake, it’s time to stop relying on the whims of the private market to achieve the robust clean power grid we need. Public Power New York is proud to stand with the Albany lawmakers demanding NYPA fulfill its mandate to lead New York’s energy transition.

The Public Power NY Coalition is a statewide movement of community and advocacy organizations, and thousands of New Yorkers fighting who in May passed the Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA), which has been called “the biggest Green New Deal Victory in US history.”

BPRA enables New York to unleash the New York Power Authority, the country’s largest public power provider, to build publicly owned, 100% renewable energy; slash energy costs for those who need it most; and create tens of thousands of green union jobs that will finally unionize the green energy sector. The bill was endorsed by unions representing over 1 million members in New York including 1199SEIU, NYSUT, PSC-CUNY, UUP, and UAW 9A.

Read the letter: Senate | Assembly

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