Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Power Generation Advisory Panel Peaking Power Plants

On January 11, 2021 the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Power (CLCPA) Generation Advisory Panel met as part of the Climate Action Council Scoping Plan development process.  The meeting tested a consensus building process to address the “problem” of peaking power plants.  This post addresses that discussion.

On July 18, 2019 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency.  I have written extensively on implementation of the CLCPA closely because its implementation affects my future as a New Yorker.  I have described the law in general, evaluated its feasibility, estimated costs, described supporting regulations, listed the scoping plan strategies, summarized some of the meetings and complained that its advocates constantly confuse weather and climate.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Background

Last summer I wrote that New York State energy and environmental policy is more about optics than facts as exemplified by  opinion pieces, reports, and even policy proposals related to peaking power plants in New York City.  The perception that they have significant local impacts and have no use in the future has now invaded the CLCPA implementation process.

The optics post summarized three detailed technical posts all related to the PEAK Coalition report entitled: “Dirty Energy, Big Money”.  The first post provided information on the primary air quality problem associated with these facilities, the organizations behind the report, the State’s response to date, the underlying issue of environmental justice and addressed the motivation for the analysis.  The second post addressed the rationale and feasibility of the proposed plan relative to environmental effects, affordability, and reliability.  Finally, I discussed the  Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers (PSE) for Healthy Energy report Opportunities for Replacing Peaker Plants with Energy Storage in New York State that provided technical information used by the PEAK Coalition.

In brief, peaking power plants are used to ensure that there is sufficient electricity at the time it is needed most.  The problem is that the hot, humid periods that create the need for the most power also are conducive to the formation of ozone.  In order to meet this reliability requirement ~ 100 simple cycle turbines were built in New York City in the early 1970’s that were cheap and functional but, compared to today’s standards, emitted a lot of nitrogen oxides that are a precursor to ozone.  The Peak Coalition report claims that peaking units operate when energy load spikes, are mostly old, and have high costs.  However, they expand the definition of peaking units to just about every facility in the City including units that are new, have low emission rates, and have lower costs than claimed. Environmental Justice advocates claim that the expanded definition peaking power plants are dangers to neighboring environmental justice communities.  However, my analyses found that the alleged impacts of the existing peaking power plants over-estimate impact on local communities relative to other sources. 

There is a category of existing simple cycle peaking turbines in New York City that are old, inefficient and much dirtier than a new facility and clearly should be replaced.  However, they reliably produce affordable power when needed most.  PSE and the PEAK Coalition advocate a solar plus energy storage approach and that has become the preferred approach of the majority of the Power Generation Advisory Panel members.  It is not clear, however, if that is a viable option.

Peaking Power Plant Status

By definition, for EPA reporting purposes 40 CFR Part 75  §72.2, a combustion unit is a peaking unit if it has an average annual capacity factor of 10.0 percent or less over the past three years and an annual capacity factor of 20.0 percent or less in each of those three years. As noted previously the utility industry considers the combustion turbines built expressly for peak periods as the New York City peaking plants.  PSE chose to select peaking power plants based on the following criteria: fuel type: oil & natural gas; Capacity: ≥ 5 MW; capacity factor: ≤15% (3-yr. avg.); unit technology type: simple cycle combustion turbine, steam turbine & internal combustion; application: entire peaker plants & peaking units at larger plants; and status: existing and proposed units. 

There is another nuance to the peaking units story. Because the primary concern with the combustion turbines that run so little is ozone attainment, they only are required to report data during the Ozone Season (May 1 to September 30). The NYC Peaking Unit Annual Ozone Season Load graph shows the trend of the simple cycle combustion turbine peaking unit and the Peak Coalition peaking unit ozone season load. Since 2001, the simple cycle turbines load trend is down and in 2020 the ozone season total energy produced was only 8,155 MWh compared to a peak over this period of 897,939 MWh in 2005. On the other hand, the Peak Coalition peaking units have only been trending down since 2017. Over that short a period the effects of weather may be the primary driver of any load changes.

The New York City Ozone Season Trends table categorizes the units as simple cycle turbines (the industry “peakers”), all the other turbines, boilers that provide electricity and steam boilers that provide steam.  In the last 20 years a number of combined cycle combustion turbines that are more efficient than the simple cycle turbines and the boilers.  In 2020, that category provided the most energy of any of the units considered displacing most of the simple cycle turbine output and a big chunk of the boilers producing electricity.  As shown in the table, in 2020 the “peakers” only generated 8,155 MWh and emitted 6,927 tons of CO2 and 28 tons of NOx.  The combined cycle turbines produced 3,968,562 MWh, 1,772,752 tons of CO2 and 103 tons of NOx and the boilers produced 2,172,185 MWh in 2020, 1,654,514 tons of CO2 and 752 tons of NOx in the 2020 Ozone Season.

Alternatives

I don’t think that many of the members of the power generation advisory panel really understand the electric system.  Although the simple cycle turbine peaking units have run less and less, completely eliminating them is still a significant undertaking.  Nonetheless, last year the Department of Environmental Conservation promulgated a new regulation that will shut them down on a schedule based on complete assurance that equally reliable options are available.  In order to eliminate the units in the Peak Coalition report is a much more difficult problem.  Unfortunately, to the ill-informed it is a simply a matter of political will.

The apparent preferred option is to use energy storage ultimately powered using renewables.  In December 2020, 74 Power Global and Con Edison announced the signing of a seven-year dispatch rights agreement for the development of a 100-megawatt battery storage project, the East River Energy Storage System, in Astoria, Queens.  The NRG Astoria Gas Turbine facility presently consists of 24 16MW simple cycle turbines is also located at the same location.  The East River Energy Storage System is rated to provide 4 hours at 100 MW capacity or 400 MWh.  On the other hand, those 24 16MW turbines can run all day if the need arises to produce 9,216 MWh or 23 times more energy. 

Unfortunately, that is not the end of the bad news for energy storage.  Last year I estimated the energy storage requirements of the CLCPA based on a NREL report Life Prediction Model for Grid-Connected Li-ion Battery Energy Storage System that describes an analysis of the life expectancy of lithium-ion energy storage systems.  The abstract of the report notes that “The lifetime of these batteries will vary depending on their thermal environment and how they are charged and discharged. To optimal utilization of a battery over its lifetime requires characterization of its performance degradation under different storage and cycling conditions.”   The report concludes: “Without active thermal management, 7 years lifetime is possible provided the battery is cycled within a restricted 47% DOD operating range. With active thermal management, 10 years lifetime is possible provided the battery is cycled within a restricted 54% operating range.”  If you use the 54% limit the 400 MWh of energy goes down to 216 MWh and the existing turbines can produce over 42 times as much energy in a day.

The mantra of the environmental justice advocates on the power generation advisory panel is that “smart planning” and renewables will be sufficient to replace fossil generation peaking plants.  In the absence of what is exactly meant by “smart planning” I assume that it will be similar to the New York Power Authority agreement to “assess how NYPA can transition its natural gas fired ‘peaker’ plants, six located in New York City and one on Long Island with a total capacity of 461 megawatts, to utilize clean energy technologies, such as battery storage and low to zero carbon emission resources and technologies, while continuing to meet the unique electricity reliability and resiliency requirements of New York City.”  Beyond the press release however, is a major technological challenge that if done wrong will threaten reliability. 

Moreover, the costs for this technology seem to be an afterthought.  The Energy Information Administration says the average utility scale battery system runs around $1.5 million per MWh of storage capacity. That works out to $600 million for the East River Energy Storage System.  NYC currently peaks at around 13,000 MW– just to keep the city running. I get the impression that one aspect of “smart” planning is to shave peaks but the CLCPA targets will require electrification across all sectors.  I don’t think that any peak shaving programs can do much to reduce the current summer peak and the peak will certainly shift to the winter when peak shaving and shifting of heating is unrealistic.  Assuming the same peak level and that the daily total peak above the baseline requires 104,000 MWhr, that means that 481 East River Energy Storage Systems operating at the NREL 54% limit would be needed to cover the peak at a cost of $289 billion.  Throw in the fact that the life expectancy is ten years and I submit this unaffordable.

NYC Solar

Even if you have enough energy storage, the mandates of the CLCPA require the use of solar and wind resources to provide that energy.  There are specific in-city generation requirements for New York City that have been implemented to ensure there is no repeat of blackouts that were caused by issues with the transmission and generation system.  It is not clear to me how this will be handled within the CLCPA construct but there is a clear need for in-city generation.  Clearly massive wind turbines are a non-starter within NYC so that leaves solar.  The problem is that a 1 MW solar PV power plant will require between 2.5 acres and 4 acres if all the space needed for accessories are required.  Assuming that panels generate five times their capacity a day 43.2 MW of solar panels can generate the 216 MWh of energy available from the East River Energy Storage System and that means a solar array of between 108 and 173 acres.  To get the 104,000 MWh needed for the entire NYC peak between 10 and 16 square miles of solar panels will be needed. 

Public Policy Concerns

I have previously described how the precautionary principle is driving the CLCPA based on the work of David Zaruk, an EU risk and science communications specialist, and author of the Risk Monger blog.  In a recent post, part of a series on the Western leadership’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, he described the current state of policy leadership that is apropos to this discussion: 

“The world of governance has evolved in the last two decades, redefining its tools and responsibilities to focus more on administration and being functionary (and less on leadership and being visionary). I have written on how this evolution towards policy-making based on more public engagement, participation and consultation has actually led to a decline in dialogue and empowerment. What is even more disturbing is how this nanny state approach, where our authorities promise a population they will be kept 100% safe in a zero-risk biosphere, has created a docilian population completely unable and unprepared to protect themselves.”

His explanation that managing policy has become more about managing public expectations with consultations and citizen panels driving decisions describes the Advisory Panels to the Climate Action Council.  He says now we have “millennial militants preaching purpose from the policy pulpit, listening to a closed group of activists and virtue signaling sustainability ideologues in narrowly restricted consultation channels”.  That is exactly what is happening on this panel in particular.  Facts and strategic vision were not core competences for the panel members.  Instead of what they know, their membership was determined by who they know.  The social justice concerns of many, including the most vocal, are more important than affordable and reliable power.  The focus on the risks of environmental justice impacts from these power plants while ignoring the ramifications if peaking power is not reliably available when it is needed most does not consider that a blackout will most likely impact environmental justice communities the most.

Conclusion

There are significant implementation issues trying to meet the CLCPA mandates in New York City.  Energy storage at the scale needed for any meaningful support to the NYC peak load problem has never been attempted.  The in-city generation requirements have to be reconciled with what could actually be available from solar within the City.  All indications are that the costs will be enormous. Importantly, I have only described the over-arching issues.  I am sure that there are many more details to be

reconciled to make this viable and there are as yet unaddressed feasibility issues.

I have previously shown that the Peak Coalition analysis of peaking plants misses the point of peaking plants and their environmental impacts.  The primary air quality health impacts are from ozone and inhalable particulates.  Both are secondary pollutants that are not directly emitted by the peaking power plants so do not affect local communities as alleged.  While nothing detracts from the need to retire the old, inefficient simple cycle turbines, replacing all the facilities targeted by the Peak Coalition is a mis-placed effort until replacement technologies that can maintain current levels of affordability and reliability are commercially available.  At this time that is simply not the case.

Comments on Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Land Use Advisory Panel Strategies

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) became effective on January 1, 2020 and establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency.  The law mandated the formation of the Climate Action Council to prepare a scoping plan to outline strategies to meet the targets.  This is one of a series of posts describing aspects of that process.  This post is my reaction to the Transportation Advisory Panel’s initial strategies.

I am very concerned about the impacts of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) on energy system reliability and affordability.  There are very few advocates for the typical citizen of New York who has very little idea about the implications of the CLCPA on energy costs and personal choices. I am a retired electric utility meteorologist with nearly 40-years-experience analyzing the effects of meteorology on electric operations. I believe that gives me a relatively unique background to consider the potential quantitative effects of energy policies based on doing something about climate change.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Background

I have described the implementation requirements in a stand-alone document.  In brief, The CLCPA mandates that a scoping plan outlining the recommendations for attaining the statewide greenhouse gas emissions shall be prepared and approved by December 31, 2021.  The Climate Action Council and seven advisory panels, transportation, energy intensive and trade-exposed industries, land-use and local government, energy efficiency and housing, power generation, waste, and agriculture and forestry consisting of political appointees and supported by agency staff are charged with this responsibility.  Since the formation of the panels in the middle of 2020 they have been holding meetings and preparing strategies.  In brief, each advisory panel is expected to “Identify a range of emissions reductions, consistent with analysis and in consultation with the Climate Action Council, for the sector which contributes to meeting the statewide emission limits.”  They have been asked to present a list of recommendations for emissions reducing policies, programs or actions, for consideration by the Climate Action Council for inclusion in the Scoping Plan and to seek public input to inform the development of recommendations to the Council for consideration.  This post describes the comments that I plan to submit as part of that public process.

General Comments – Note that this is pretty much the same for all my advisory panel posts

There are major potential land use and environmental impact ramifications of the CLCPA on agriculture and forest lands.  I believe it is necessary to do a cumulative environmental impact assessment of the Scoping Plan’s projections for wind and solar development and I strongly recommend that this panel work with the land use panel to take the lead in developing a strategy to evaluate those impacts.

At the end of September 2020 the Department of Public Service released the  Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA SGEIS”).  Unfortunately, that analysis only evaluated the 70% reduction by 2030 target and did not even use the latest estimates for the wind and solar developments for that target.  Based on the projections by E3 in their presentation to the Power Generation Advisory Panel on September 16, 2020 and the Analysis Group September 10, 2020  presentation of draft recent observations as part of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) Climate Change Phase II Study significantly more wind and solar will be required than was analyzed in the CLCPA SGEIS process.  Because the capacity estimates from these analyses and others are so much larger than the latest CLCPA SGEIS estimate I believe that another environmental impact analysis is needed when the Climate Action Council finalizes its Scoping Plan.

I extrapolated results from several projects to estimate the potential cumulative impacts for the extraordinary buildout of wind generation projected by the Analysis Group – 35,200 MW compared to 5,905 MW in the last DPS impact statement that evaluated wind energy cumulative impacts.  If all the wind projects are built on agricultural land, then between 12% and 56% of the agricultural lands will be covered with wind turbines.  Of course, it is more likely that wind turbines will be sited on ridge lines but that will affect forest land use.  Nonetheless that study also projected 39,262 MW of utility scale solar that will have to go somewhere.  It is not just land use that will be affected.  The environmental impacts of this much wind generation could cause the deaths of between 91 and 804 bald eagles a year.

I recommend that the Land Use Advisory Panel develop a strategy that includes preparations for the cumulative analysis of the Scoping Plan recommended wind and solar development.  That process should start soon and determine a threshold for unacceptable environmental impacts.  For example, I am worried about eagles.  If you had told me 30 years ago that I would ever see a Bald Eagle from my home I would have been doubtful.  Now that has occurred and I am not willing to chance that environmental victory.  Because there are a limited number of eagles and their reproduction rates are low, I imagine that wildlife biologists could develop a criterion on the acceptable annual rate of state-wide eagle deaths from wind turbines.  There were 426 occupied bald eagle nest sites in New York in 2017. It is obvious that a more detailed projection of wind turbine impacts on this rare resource is needed.  The ultimate goal should be to refine the NYSERDA on wind power and biodiversity habitat sensitivity maps for the CLCPA resource development planning and siting process.

Specific Comments

The Land Use and Local Government advisory panel presented ten strategies from three subgroups. I will address each of the strategies below.

In the Land Use Strategies category five strategies were proposed.  The “promote and facilitate county and inter-municipal smart growth planning efforts, including focusing development in priority growth centers” and “promote coordinated regional approaches to meet climate goals while integrating transportation, housing, and land conservation needs” smart growth strategies rationales support conservation of areas.  Supposedly smart growth will support the development of open space conservation areas and conserve natural and working lands.  However, 35,200 MW of on-shore wind energy and 39,262 MW of utility-scale solar estimated by the Analysis Group will likely consume far more land than can be saved by smart growth.  The panel should address this contradiction.

The remaining three strategies proposed are:

      • Streamline and incentivize Smart Growth project review
      • Coordinate State planning funds/activities/entities to ensure that transportation, housing, and conservation actions are not in conflict and achieve reduce vehicle miles, clean energy, and equity goals
      • Build capacity at the regional level and provide support to municipalities to promote smart growth, facilitate clean energy siting, and reduce vehicle miles traveled

All three strategies are intended to facilitate smart growth development.  I think there is a huge disconnect between smart growth advocates and the rest of society.  There are reasons why society evolved to today’s land use patterns in New York and smart growth development is an attempt to change those choices all in the name of it’s for your own good.  If their case is good then fine but what this all means should be publicized more.

Three clean energy strategies were proposed:

      • Establish statewide higher energy codes, benchmarking, building performance mandates, and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing to avoid a patchwork of policies.
      • Encourage local governments to initiate Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs and community campaigns to increase local access to clean energy products and services.
      • Overcome legal, financial, regulatory, and technical barriers to greening municipal building, facilities, and fleets

I don’t think that there are any surprises in these strategies.  I do have a reservation about the CCA programs that are touted to allow energy choice.  Those programs cannot pay their own way so someone has to support them.  As more and more of these programs are implemented fewer and fewer will have to provide more and more support.  Unless you can guarantee that this initiative does not increase the number of people with unacceptable energy burdens it should not be included.

There were two Adaptation and Resilience Strategies:

      • Develop policies, programs and resources to reduce risks associated with acute climate hazards
      • Seek to ensure State and local investments assess climate change and resiliency impacts of projects

I support adaptation and resilience efforts because they are no regrets solutions to problems that are not going to go away.  However, I cannot help but take exception to the rationale used because whenever I have evaluated climate data the results don’t support the narrative that climate change effects due to mankind are showing up now.  The CLCPA in general and this characterization in particular confuse weather and climate.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service “Weather reflects short-term conditions of the atmosphere while climate is the average daily weather for an extended period of time at a certain location.”  The referenced article goes on to explain “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.”  The reality is that any possible climate effect on extreme weather in the foreseeable future is a small tweak much smaller than normal variations.  Nonetheless acute weather hazards are a problem that should be addressed.

Conclusion

I maintain that the fundamental problem with the CLCPA is the lack of a feasibility study.  It is not clear to me that the ultimate problem of trying to supply the energy needs of a mostly electrified New York electric energy system will work during a multi-day winter doldrum if the primary sources of electricity are wind and solar.  The only way this might work will require extraordinary amounts of wind and solar development.  When there is an “official” estimate of those resources clearly a cumulative environmental impact analysis for those resources should be completed as soon as possible.  This panel and the agriculture and forestry panel are in the best position to develop a strategy to address this problem.

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Cumulative Environmental Impacts

On July 18, 2019 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency.  It was described as the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country when Cuomo signed the legislation.  However, it is not clear that the cumulative environmental impacts of all the resources needed to meet the 2050 net-zero goal will be less than the purported environmental impacts of the climate change effects of New York emissions in part because the State has not evaluated the impacts of all the resources needed for those goals.

I have written extensively on implementation of the CLCPA closely because its implementation affects my future as a New Yorker.  I have described the law in general, evaluated its feasibility, estimated costs, described supporting regulations, listed the scoping plan strategies, summarized some of the meetings and complained that its advocates constantly confuse weather and climate.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Background

I have been doing environmental assessments for over 40 years and really worry about the environmental impacts of the CLCPA because there is no commitment to evaluate the cumulative impacts.  The problem is that while an individual industrial wind facility or solar facility may not have a notable environmental impact the cumulative impact of all the facilities necessary to provide enough power to meet the reliability needs of the state could have significant environmental impacts.  Because the State has established this goal it should be responsible for this analysis and not the applicants for individual facilities.

On June 24, 2020, DPS announced that they would be accepting comments on the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.  On September 30, 2020 DPS announced that they had accepted the Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA SGEIS”).  The Executive Summary explains that this is the fifth environmental impact analysis for various iterations of New York’s clean energy programs.  The statement explains that the action is “a continuation of previous initiatives analyzed in the Prior SEQRA Analyses, in addition to the increase in resources needed for implementation of the following CLCPA requirements:

      • 70% of electricity from renewable energy by 2030
      • 9,000 MW of offshore wind electricity by 2035
      • 6,000 MW of distributed photovoltaic solar generation by 2025.”

There are two problems however.  There are significant differences between 70% of electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2040.  The other problem is that their projections for the generation necessary for 2030 are outdated with more recent estimates coming in higher.  This post compares the resources modeled in this impact statement and the latest projections.

Comments

I have made the comment that a comprehensive cumulative environmental impact statement is needed for New York’s clean energy programs in a couple of venues including the Resource Adequacy proceeding and Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act proposed regulation.  I prepared comments on the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for this CLCPA impact statement but ended up not submitting them. This post updates those unsubmitted comments.

In this post I consider the avian impact of the Bluestone Wind Project in Broome County New York to show impacts for a single facility.  It will have up to 33 turbines and have a capability of up to 124 MW covering 5,652 acres.  The “Cumulative Impacts Assessment” Appendix UU, which is document #752 on the NYSDPS-DMM-Matter Master website case #16-F-0559 in the Article 10 application for the facility.   Over the 30-year expected lifetime of the facility the analysis estimates that 85 Bald Eagles and 21 federally protected Eastern Golden Eagles will be killed.  The analysis assumes that impacts to bat species at the Facility would be similar to the average bat impacts reported at other wind energy projects in New York (average rate of 6.05 bats/MW/year) so approximately 868 bat deaths per year could be expected at the Facility.  However, the facility has committed to a mitigation curtailment that will stop operations during light wind speeds from July 1 to September 30 which they claim will reduce impacts 60% down to 347 bat deaths per year.

The cumulative impact analysis in this report references a Department of Energy site Projected growth of the Wind Industry.  They project that from 2020 to 2050, the projected 30-year life of the Facility, on-shore wind development in New York is estimated to increase from 1.75 gigawatts (GW) to 5.61 GW.  The next step is to see how that projection for on-shore wind development squares with more recent, NY climate policy specific projections for on-shore wind and the CLCPA SGEIS.

The Estimates of Land-Based Wind Resources table has 16 estimates of on-shore wind resources.  In 2019 there were 1,985 MW of installed wind capacity.  According to Exhibit 1-2, Summary of Environmental Resource Areas Analyzed in the Prior SEQRA Analyses, onshore wind impacts were last considered in the 2016 SEIS and in the CLCPA SGEIS were “not analyzed further”.  As a result, the 2016 impact statement estimates of the land-based wind capacity ,  4,000 MW in the base case and 5,905 MW in the high load case, represent the latest CLCPA EIS estimate.   In 2020 the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) estimated land-based wind resources needed to meet the Climate Act 70×30 goal as part of its Congestion Assessment and Resource Integration Studies (CARIS) planning process.  They project that 6,476 MW will be needed, 571 MW more than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate, in 2030.  Importantly, in order to meet all the electrification needs of the Climate Act in 2050, much more land-based wind will be needed after 2030. On June 24, 2020 Energy plus Environmental Economics (E3) presented results of their emissions reductions pathway analyses to the New York Climate Action Council that included projections of land-based wind in 2030, 4,700 MW, which is less than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate high load case, but in 2050 they projected 9,000 MW in 2050, which is 3,095 MW more than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate high load case.

On June 15, 2020 the Brattle Group presented results from their report New York’s Evolution to a Zero Emission Power System that included five projections of land-based wind.  In their base case they project 9,700 MW in 2030 and 23,300 MW in 2040, 3,795 MW and 17,395 MW more than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate high load case respectively.  They also included two scenarios with different estimates of feasibility.  They noted that the DPS maximum feasible on-shore wind builds were 10,000 MW (4,095 MW greater than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate) and the NYSERDA maximum feasible on-shore wind builds were 8,000 MW (2,095 MW greater than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate).  The final scenario claimed used a National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) technical potential on-shore wind capacity of 26,000 MW which is 20,095 MW greater than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate.  The Analysis Group Climate Change Impact Phase II Final Report for NYISO had another estimate for the NREL total technical potential of 35,200 MW which is 29,295 MW greater than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate.  That analysis incorporates all the load increases necessary to electrify other sectors to meet the CLCPA goals so I believe that this is the best estimate of the final resource requirement.  Because that capacity estimate is so much larger than the latest CLCPA EIS estimate I can only conclude that another environmental impact analysis is needed when the Climate Action Council finalizes its Scoping Plan.

It is concerning to me that an analysis done for NYSERDA on wind power and biodiversity by the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) and Nature Conservancy found that: “5,430 square kilometers (1.3 million acres) of land in New York that are both suitable for wind power development and avoid areas that are likely to have high biodiversity value. Using an estimate of 3.0 MW/square kilometers, this translates to a megawatt capacity estimate of 16,300 MW (± 9,000 MW) for New York’s terrestrial landscape.”  The Analysis Group projection of 35,200 MW exceeds this range and that suggests that wind turbines will have to be sited within areas of high biodiversity value.  It is absolutely necessary that there is a commitment to do a cumulative environmental impact statement evaluating the on-shore wind resources needed to meet the CLCPA goals.

Finally, I made estimated some New York Cumulative On-Shore Wind Impacts.  I calculated the land needed for development and compared that to agricultural land and high biodiversity land.  According to the latest CLCPA EIS, assuming a conservative range of land use requirements from NREL’s 2009 study of 30 to 141 acres per MW, total land use requirements for 4,000 MW of land-based wind under the base case PPA scenario (the latest CLCPA EIS estimate scenario which projects the lowest amount of land-based wind development) may require between 120,000 and 564,000 acres of land.  I calculated the totals for all the scenarios included in the previous table.  Based on a recent estimate of 8.79 million acres of agricultural lands in NYS, if agriculture lands hosted 100 percent of wind energy development projects, for all the projections between approximately 1.4 percent up to 56.5% percent of agriculture lands would have to be converted to wind energy development.  The fraction of suitable land compares the NYSERDA on wind power and biodiversity estimate of suitable land for wind development to the land needed to meet CLCPA requirements.  The fraction ranges from a miniscule 0.09 to a scary 3.82.  These unrefined estimates are only intended to make the point that a refined analysis is needed.  It is unlikely that wind development will take place on agricultural lands but solar energy development is much more likely there.  Wind will impact forests along ridge lines.

Circling back to the Bluestone Wind Project analysis that predicted eagle and bat deaths I also calculated the state-wide impacts using their numbers.  Annual deaths range from 91 to 804 Bald Eagles, 23 to 199 Eastern Gold Eagles, and 373 to 3,283 bats simply extrapolating their numbers state-wide.  Of course, those are crude numbers.  The population density of these species has to be mapped against the actual locations of potential wind farms for starters.  The actual methodology used to determine deaths also has to be checked and the bat deaths incorporate a mitigation curtailment that limits operations.

 Conclusion

I have always maintained that the biggest deficiency in the CLCPA was the lack of a feasibility study.  It is not clear to me that the ultimate problem of trying to supply the energy needs of an mostly electrified New York  electric system can be solved during a multi-day winter doldrum if the primary sources of electricity are wind and solar   The only way this might work will require extraordinary amounts of wind and solar development.  When there is an “official” estimate of those resources clearly a cumulative environmental impact analysis for those resources should be completed as soon as possible.

Ideally, preparations for that cumulative analysis should start now to determine a threshold for unacceptable environmental impacts.  For example, I am worried about eagles.  If you had told me 30 years ago that I would ever see a Bald Eagle from my home I would have been doubtful.  Now that has occurred and I am not willing to chance that environmental victory.  Because there are a limited number of eagles and their reproduction rates are low, I imagine that wildlife biologists could develop a criterion on the acceptable annual rate of state-wide eagle deaths from wind turbines.  There were 426 occupied bald eagle nest sites in New York in 2017. It is obvious that a more detailed projection of wind turbine impacts on this rare resource is needed.  The ultimate goal should be to refine the NYSERDA on wind power and biodiversity habitat sensitivity maps for the CLCPA resource development planning and siting process.

Comments on CLCPA Transportation Advisory Panel Implementation Strategies

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) became effective on January 1, 2020 and establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency.  The law mandated the formation of the Climate Action Council to prepare a scoping plan to outline strategies to meet the targets.  This is one of a series of posts describing aspects of that process.  In particular, this post is my reaction to the Transportation Advisory Panel’s initial strategies.

I am very concerned about the impacts of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) on energy system reliability and affordability.  There are very few advocates for the typical citizen of New York who has very little idea about the implications of the CLCPA on energy costs and personal choices. I am a retired electric utility meteorologist with nearly 40-years-experience analyzing the effects of meteorology on electric operations. I believe that gives me a relatively unique background to consider the potential quantitative effects of energy policies based on doing something about climate change.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Background

I have described the implementation requirements in a stand-alone document.  In brief, The CLCPA mandates that a scoping plan outlining the recommendations for attaining the statewide greenhouse gas emissions shall be prepared and approved by December 31, 2021.  The Climate Action Council and seven advisory panels, transportation, energy intensive and trade-exposed industries, land-use and local government, energy efficiency and housing, power generation, waste, and agriculture and forestry consisting of political appointees and supported by agency staff are charged with this responsibility.  Since the formation of the panels in the middle of 2020 they have been holding meetings and preparing strategies.  In brief, each advisory panel is expected to “Identify a range of emissions reductions, consistent with analysis and in consultation with the Climate Action Council, for the sector which contributes to meeting the statewide emission limits.”  They have been asked to present a list of recommendations for emissions reducing policies, programs or actions, for consideration by the Climate Action Council for inclusion in the Scoping Plan and to seek public input to inform the development of recommendations to the Council for consideration.  This post describes the comments that I plan to submit as part of that public process.

General Comments

My impression of these transportation strategies is that there is a dis-connect between their goals and reality.  Reality is that there are on the order of 9.4 million vehicles registered in New York State with 1.9 million in New York City.  According to the ChargeNY website on 12/2/2020 there were 58,856 electric vehicles or 0.6% of the total and more than half of those are plug in hybrid electric vehicles and supporting their future use is just more fossil fuel infrastructure so they will have to be banned.  One hundred years ago there was a choice between electrified public transit and personal automobiles and by 1920 the interurban and trolley network that covered much of the state was already in decline because of the convenience of personal transport.  I find it hard to imagine that the majority of people would be willing to make the sacrifice of giving up their car.

Strategy Comments

The first strategy “Transportation Electrification” proposes to adopt regulatory approaches and supporting policies to increase the sale of medium and heavy-duty zero emission vehicles to 30% by 2030 and the sale of light-duty zero emission vehicles to 100% by 2035, and require greater use of zero emission non-road vehicles.  This strategy is mostly wishful thinking.  The fact is that zero emission vehicles are not available with all the capabilities as currently available vehicles.  For example, the minivan offers enough room for all the kids and baggage can be used for hauling pretty big items.  It can be used to go 250 miles in any weather without the need for a long stop to re-charge.  Without an equivalent vehicle Christmas trips to the grandparents are a much more complicated endeavor.  Another example of a transportation element not addressed yet is recreational vehicles.  I own a motor coach, use it often and my experience suggests that an electrification mandate will kill the industry in NY.

The rationale for this strategy claims that zero emission vehicles save consumers money spent on fuels and maintenance neglects total costs.  Many people cannot afford new vehicles and there is a very limited used EV market.  Many people worry about the cost of replacement batteries for used cars.  The head of Toyota raised the issues of the energy loss inside the electric vehicle value chain and the depreciated costs of developing a massive electric vehicle support infrastructure for ten million vehicles.  I would add that the hidden environmental costs of the rare earth elements and other metals needed for electrification should also be addressed.  The car battery in each automobile weighs 1,000 pounds and fabrication requires digging up, moving and processing 250 tons of earth somewhere else – this CLCPA implementation mandate is going to cause massive environmental impact leakage.

The Clean Fuels strategy proposes to “Adopt a market-based approach and supporting policies to increase the availability and affordability of clean transportation fuels (renewable biofuels, green hydrogen, electricity) in New York”.  This strategy should address the environmental impacts of biofuels.    Hydrogen is nice in theory but because it has to be compressed or liquified for storage is impractical in reality.  Electrification has serious border issues if New York or even the Transportation Climate Initiative region continue to go down this path without the rest of continent following suit.

There are two components to the Public Transportation strategy:

      • Identify policies and programs that would double the availability/accessibility of upstate and downstate suburban public transportation services statewide by 2035 and
      • Identify policies and programs to support system reliability/network expansion projects identified by MTA in their twenty-year needs study.

As noted previously, there used to be an extensive public transit system in the state that died out where public needs could not be met.  The strategy claims there is “unparalleled support for public transportation based on NY being the least energy per capita for transportation purposes” overlooks the fact that is almost entirely due to New York City.  Even if you manage to double availability and accessibility in New York City that is an easy task relative to the rest of the state.  Current land use patterns preclude substantial increases in public transit services outside of metropolitan areas.  Consider that, for example, using public transit from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority office building to the State Capitol is a 9.7 mile, 14 minute drive or a 46 minute bus ride that includes a one mile walk.  Of course, that does not include waiting time for the bus.  Rather than a vague plan with aspirational goals the strategy clearly needs to be in sufficient detail to explain what would be required to make this actually work.

The final strategy, Smart Growth and Transportation System Efficiency, also has two components:

      • Transportation-Oriented Development—Align roadway, residential and commercial development to be proximate and accessible to public transportation and consider holistic GHG emissions in smart growth developments;
      • Low-and Zero-Carbon Transportation Modes—Expand access to low-or zero-carbon transportation modes (biking, walking, carpooling) for first mile/last mile connections to transit and destinations.

While there certainly are areas where transit-oriented development can be done, to think it has widespread applicability outside the New York City metropolitan area is completely wishful thinking.  Advocates for this just have to admit that current land use patterns make this strategy useless.  The transportation modes component is another great theory proposed by someone who would not have to deal with impracticalities for anyone in rural areas and most suburban areas.  It boils down to the reality that anyone who has a remote car starter to deal with the inconvenience of a cold car is not going to use public transit in the winter.

Conclusion

I think that upon closer examination all of these strategies have flaws that make them unacceptable for the vast majority of people outside the echo chamber of transportation-related climate solutions ideology.  The only way these strategies can get started much less implemented is if the public does not catch on.  Experience shows that when the effects of these policies on transportation costs and personal choices become known to the general public that a backlash will occur.

Response to My Comments on the New York Value of Carbon Guidance

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates that the state establish a value of carbon for use in the implementation of the law.  On December 30, 2020 New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced finalization of this guidance.  This post summarizes the final guidance and describes the response to comments on the draft guidance document.  In general, the guidance document and the responses all are consistent with the CLCPA narrative that climate change is an imminent, inevitable disaster that can only be averted by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I submitted comments because this law will affect the affordability and reliability of New York’s energy.   I am a retired electric generation utility meteorologist with nearly 40-years of experience analyzing the effects of environmental regulations on electric and gas operations.  I have written a series of posts on the feasibility, implications and consequences of this aspect of the law and another series of posts on carbon pricing initiatives.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Background

On July 18, 2019 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed CLCPA, which establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency.  It was described as the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country when Cuomo signed the legislation.  I have summarized the schedule, implementation components, and provide links to the legislation itself at CLCPA Summary Implementation Requirements.

The CLCPA requires the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in consultation with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), to establish guidance for a value of carbon for use by State agencies. According to the DEC press release:

“The guidance is different than a regulation and does not propose a carbon price, fee, or compliance obligation. It is a metric that will be broadly applicable to all State agencies and authorities to demonstrate the global societal value of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The guidance establishes a value of carbon focused on the federal social cost of carbon and incorporates public comments DEC received when the draft guidance was proposed earlier this year, including recommending a lower central discount rate of two percent, which should be reported alongside a one and three percent discount rate for informational purposes. In some decision-making contexts, particularly those that have a history of valuing carbon, such as the New York electric industry, the guidance suggests that alternative approaches to valuing carbon may be more appropriate for both resource valuation and benefit-cost analyses.  Use of the lower central discount rate translates into a 2020 central value of carbon dioxide of $125 per ton; methane of $2,782 per ton; and nitrous oxide of $44,727 per ton.”

The Value of Carbon Guidance provides values for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide for use by State agencies along with recommended guidelines for the use of these and other values by State entities. Four documents were made available:

In section §75-0113, Value of Carbon the CLCPA states that the “social cost of carbon shall serve as a monetary estimate of the value of not emitting a ton of greenhouse gas emissions” and that “As determined by the department, the social cost of carbon may be based on marginal greenhouse gas abatement costs or on the global economic, environmental, and social impacts of emitting a marginal ton of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, utilizing a range of appropriate discount rates, including a rate of zero.”  The law states that DEC “shall consider prior or existing estimates of the social cost of carbon issued or adopted by the federal government, appropriate international bodies, or other appropriate and reputable scientific organizations.”

Response to Comments

In general, a major point in my comments was that I believe the focus of the guidance is wrong.  According to the document:

“The purpose of this guidance is to aid State entities in decision making by establishing a monetary value of greenhouse gas emission reductions or increases that reflects global societal impacts. This guidance does not itself establish a price or fee on emissions, and the value of carbon presented here is not the only value that may be used by the State. Alternative methods for establishing a value of carbon may be used by State entities, including the Department, as needed to achieve the goals and requirements of the CLCPA as well as other State goals, such as to protect public safety, welfare, and the environment.”

The guidance does not recognize that the CLCPA has specific targets so the proper way to address social costs is through a cost efficiency approach.  The damages approach recommended in the guidance is an efficiency concept inappropriate when developing control measures.  The emphasis of the guidance is on state agency use and not for supporting the Climate Action Council scoping plan mandate.

DEC’s responses to comments are listed below with my italicized reply below each paragraph.

“The Department received comments from individuals, elected officials, municipal officials, environmental advocacy groups, community groups, academic and other nonprofit research institutions, and private businesses particularly those related to the electricity sector. Most commenters responded to DEC’s specific request for input on the selection of a central discount rate or commented on three other areas: the use of a range of discount rates, the application of other approaches such as marginal abatement, or technical details of the damages-based or marginal abatement approaches. As discussed in the Guidance, DEC is providing guidelines regarding the use of the damages-based approach to enable New York State agencies to use this tool, where needed. DEC is not seeking to develop guidelines for the use of other approaches, such as marginal abatement, at this time.”

My comments explained that there are other metrics that describe ‘equivalences’ between climate-changing species used to determine contributions to climate impacts.  Tol et al (2012) present a unifying framework that clarifies the relationships among four metrics establishing ‘equivalences’ among emissions of various species. Importantly, the framework distinguishes between cost benefits and cost effectiveness. This paper explains that once a cap is set, you should not use the social cost of carbon. The social cost of carbon is an efficiency concept. Establishing a price incentivizes society to develop the most efficient response to that price but does not guarantee specific emission levels. Once a specific target is established in a cap that violates the efficiency principle inherent in the social cost of carbon.  Instead, the cap requires that emissions are valued to the shadow price of the cap. There was no response to this argument.

 “The majority of commenters who responded to DEC’s request for feedback on the selection of a central discount rate support the lower of the two suggested values, i.e., 2% rather than the 2.5% that was previously established as the lower bound of discount rates by the federal government. Some of these commenters suggested that the central rate should be no higher than 2%. Other commenters requested a rate that is lower, such as zero or 1%, or suggested that the DEC should adopt higher rates that would be consistent with that previously used by other New York State agencies and the federal government.”

 A lower discount rate produces higher values which supports the narrative of the CLCPA and likely the majority of the commenters who have a vested interest in climate change catastrophes.  My argument that on a global basis using lower discount rates memorializes the status quo for the world’s poor was ignored.

“While DEC maintains that the public is best informed by reporting a range of discount rates, given the responses received, DEC has revised the Guidance to apply a central 2% discount rate. However, as many commenters pointed out, the damages-based approach is continually refined and improved and DEC will continue to consider incorporating new research. DEC will also consider additional ways to address uncertainty and intergenerational equity issues raised by the commenters, such as through a declining discount rate or the incorporation of a 95th percentile on the central discount rate, as the research continues to improve. While not specifically raised in the public comments, one issue with applying a non-standard discount rate, such as 2%, is that this affects the applicability of published analyses, because the analyses are unlikely to apply the same discount rate.”

I raised problems with damages-based approaches in my comments but one would not know that from this response. 

“Several commenters took issue with the use of a range of discount rates and stated a preference that DEC require all State entities to use one discount rate. DEC has revised the Guidance to clarify the initial intent of the Guidance. Namely, DEC’s guidance follows the federal government’s approach to using the damages-based value of carbon, under which agencies use the central rate, but also report the results for a higher and lower rate. DEC did not intend to suggest that State entities use any discount rate within the range. Instead, DEC suggests that, if State agencies apply a damages-based value of carbon as a part of their decision-making, they should use the 2% discount rate to estimate the value (as opposed to the federal government’s central rate of 3%) and also report the values estimated using the 1% and 3% discount rates. This enables the public to see the effect of the discount rate and, in the case of the 3% rate, compare their assessment to federal actions and previous State policies.”

I agree with the DEC response that the public should be able to see the effect of the discount rate.  The suggestion in my comments that the public should also be able to see the effect of the time horizon, the location of impacts, and equilibrium climate sensitivity was ignored.  I also argued that the one reference used to justify using a lower discount rate was inadequate and that additional justification was needed.  There were no changes to the document to respond to that.

“The remaining comments covered a diverse set of topics, including topics beyond the scope of the Guidance. DEC will use all relevant feedback in refining the Guidance and in developing future guidance. An example is to provide additional guidance on how to consider public health impacts and the social costs for co-pollutants. The CLCPA specifically refers to the social cost of emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but the Guidance does discuss how the damages-based approach can be used to assess other impacts and other pollutants. The Guidance is a complement to other, more standard methods used.”

Topics beyond the scope of the Guidance are ignored if they don’t fit the narrative.  I raised fundamental issues raised about the mis-use of the value of carbon when emission targets have been chosen and no response.  Instead, they highlight comments that claim the values are too low.  Honestly, if they want to provide New York’s citizens information rather than just propaganda they should describe both sides of the valuation issues, explain why they chose what that chose, and explain why only the negative externalities of fossil fuels are considered without any consideration of the benefits.

Conclusion

Because it appears that a primary goal of this process is to memorialize a value of carbon to justify agency actions, the public deserves to know how the real costs are balanced against the theorized cost benefits.  When CLCPA strategies are announced and cost savings are claimed the public deserves to know that the savings are based on global not New York benefits, savings out to 2300, do not represent the latest climate sensitivity science, and that no consensus exists on what approach or rate to use for discounting uncertain climate impacts over long time horizons.  Instead, the basis is buried in a technical document that does not even acknowledge that there are uncertainties and issues with basis for cost savings based on these values of carbon.

Furthermore, there are fundamental technical considerations overlooked or ignored by the guidance and response to comments. New York State CLCPA implementation is trying to choose between many expensive policy options while at the same time attempting to understand which one (or what mix) will be the least expensive and have the fewest negative impacts on the existing system. If good picks are made then state ratepayers will spend the least amount of a lot of money, but if they are wrong, we will be left with lots of negative outcomes and even higher costs for a long time.  A value of carbon approach that addressed that concern as its primary goal would be great support to address this problem.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Cautionary RGGI Tale from New York

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is likely to generate over $149 million in fiscal year 2021-2022 for New York State investments to support comprehensive strategies that best achieve the RGGI greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals pursuant to 21 NYCRR Part 507.  This post describes the comments I submitted for the New York RGGI Operating Plan Amendment for 2021.

I have been involved in the RGGI program process since its inception sometime in 2004.  I blog about the details of the RGGI program because very few seem to want to provide any independent review of the program. The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Background

RGGI is a market-based program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.  According to a RGGI website: “The RGGI states issue CO2 allowances which are distributed almost entirely through regional auctions, resulting in proceeds for reinvestment in strategic energy and consumer programs. Programs funded with RGGI investments have spanned a wide range of consumers, providing benefits and improvements to private homes, local businesses, multi-family housing, industrial facilities, community buildings, retail customers, and more.”  Note that New Jersey has re-joined RGGI and Virginia will be joining in 2021.

On December 16, 2020 a stakeholder advisory group meeting was held to provide an overview of the draft operating plan amendment.  Meeting materials included the following:

The presentation provides an overview of the meeting.  The introduction of the operating plan describes New York’s RGGI approach.  Implementation responsibilities are shared by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

NYSERDA’s RGGI Operating Plan is reviewed and revised on an annual basis. The operating plan document represents the 2021 Operating Plan Amendment and provides program descriptions and funding levels for the April 2021-March 2024 timeframe.  NYSERDA regulations include a provision to annually convene a group of stakeholders representing a broad array of energy and environmental interests. This group advises NYSERDA regarding strategies to best utilize RGGI funds. NYSERDA holds an open meeting of the stakeholder group each year, inviting input on how to achieve greater scale of implementation, advance activities that realize benefits in disadvantaged communities, expand private investments and partnerships, and address barriers to program success.

The draft Amendment explains that New York State invests RGGI proceeds to support comprehensive strategies that best achieve the RGGI greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals pursuant to 21 NYCRR Part 507.  The programs in the portfolio of initiatives are designed to support the pursuit of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals by:

      • Deploying commercially available energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies;
      • Building the State’s capacity for long-term carbon reduction;
      • Empowering New York communities to reduce carbon pollution, and transition to cleaner energy;
      • Stimulating entrepreneurship and growth of clean energy and carbon abatement companies in New York; and
      • Creating innovative financing to increase adoption of clean energy and carbon abatement in the State.

Proposed Programs

In my  comments , I evaluated the programs proposed for the draft Amendment. NYSERDA’s New York State Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative-Funded Programs status reports were used to estimate the ability of these program to reduce CO2.  The latest report, Semiannual Status Report through December 31, 2019 includes a summary of expected cumulative annual program benefits.

Operating Plan Table 1 lists those programs that are funded going forward in the draft Amendment and includes annual program benefits for existing programs.  There are 18 proposed programs that have been allotted funds for the revised FY20-21 through FY23-24 budget years.  I classified them into five categories and provided summaries of the programs themselves in 2021 RGGI Operating Plan Program Descriptions.

The programs in the first two categories are expected to produce emission reductions.  Eight programs were funded before 2020 and have estimates of the cost to reduce CO2.  They are allocated $416.2 million or 69% of the budgeted funds and, based on the NYSERDA report estimates, could reduce CO2 emissions just over 807,000 tons.  This translates to a expected CO2 cost reduction efficiency of $516 per ton.  Two new programs are similar to exiting programs and using the overall cost efficiency for the existing programs could reduce CO2 emissions another78,431 tons.

The next two categories are existing and new programs that do not directly reduce CO2 emissions. There is one existing program and four existing administrative line items totaling $76.8 million or 13% of the total that do not directly reduce CO2 emissions. It is disappointing that two new proposed programs totaling $14 million or 2% of the total that will also not directly reduce CO2 emissions.  New York’s proportion of line items that do not directly reduce CO2 emissions is the highest of any RGGI state.

Finally, the draft amendment includes a program that will increase CO2 emissions.  The draft Amendment proposes to allocate $52.8 million or 9% of the total budget to the ChargeNY program that will promote plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption by consumers across New York.

Environmental Justice

Clearly the operating amendment funding represents a lot of money.  The Operating Plan amendment for 2021 notes that:

“RGGI programs have and will continue, alongside other state programs, to contribute to economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reductions and provide benefits to New York’s historically overburdened and underserved communities. NYSERDA’s CO2 Allowance Auction Program regulations reflect the provision of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act “that 40%, and no less than 35%, of the overall benefits from the investment of the [CO2 Allowance Auctions] proceeds” will be realized in disadvantaged communities.”

It is entirely appropriate that there should be an emphasis on environmental justice but I have concerns about the State’s approach.

Unfortunately, meeting that goal means even less emphasis on cost effectiveness.  I noted in my comments that the CLCPA and the draft Amendment emphasize support to disadvantaged communities.  Given that all other jurisdictions that have attempted to reduce GHG emissions have increased the cost of energy, it is likely that will be the case in New York too.  Therefore, I think there are two priorities to reduce the regressive impact on those who can least afford those increased costs.  Overall, the funding emphasis should be on the most cost-effective GHG reduction programs to lower overall costs.  The exception to that emphasis are programs that directly reduce costs for anyone, regardless of location, who is living in energy poverty or has a disproportionate energy burden.  I worry that the emphasis on disadvantaged communities will hurt energy paupers living outside of those communities, particularly those in rural areas.

A focus on reducing the energy burden of disadvantaged in general and in overburdened and underserved communities in particular is more appropriate than the state’s plans to fulfill a mandate for spending a particular amount in a particular way. In order to address the effect of climate change on dis-advantaged communities adapting and becoming more resilient to extreme weather rather than attempting to mitigate those impacts would also be more appropriate than funding wind and solar projects that have their own environmental consequences.

 Conclusion

The draft Amendment budget total covering fiscal years 2020 to 2024 is over $600 million and is projected to reduce annual CO2 emissions 807,024 tons for a cost efficiency of $744 per ton reduced.  Over 30% of the budget is apportioned to programs or line items that do not directly reduce CO2.

The cost reduction efficiency is $516 per ton for the programs that will directly reduce CO2.  The recently adopted Value of Carbon Guidance recommended a 2020 value of carbon dioxide of $53-421 per ton, with a central value of $125 per ton; a 2020 value of methane of $1,527-6,578 per ton, with a central value of $2,782 per ton; and a value of nitrous oxide of $19,084-140,766 per ton, with a central value of $44,727 per ton.  If we only consider the carbon dioxide values, the cost effectiveness exceeds the purported negative externality costs and that means that the RGGI operating plan programs do not meet this basic cost-benefit test.

Clearly the draft Amendments should put greater emphasis on investments with better cost effectiveness rates or develop programs to bring those costs down.  Moreover, if the costs of the emission reduction programs exceed the purported negative externality costs then it suggests that it would be more appropriate to invest the proceeds elsewhere.  Note that in the future the State is going to have to breakout expected methane and nitrous oxide emission reductions, if any, in order to reflect the full value of RGGI proceeds investments.

There is one final aspect of this that troubles me.  RGGI is an electric sector emissions reduction program.  New York State is already abusing the RGGI objectives with all the programs that produce no CO2 reductions.  I am sure that a detailed review of the programs would uncover funding that should be covered by existing programs and not with RGGI funds.  While it is understandable that RGGI funding will be used to meet the CLCPA dis-advantaged community mandates it will likely further dilute the effectiveness of future reductions.  Funding the ChargeNY program that will promote plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption by consumers across New York will actually increase CO2 emissions and I recommended that those funds be re-allocated elsewhere.  The ultimate problem that the operating plan overlooks is at some point the sources affected by RGGI will be unable to lower their emissions.  In order to meet the RGGI cap zero-emission generating and reductions in load funded by the RGGI proceeds will be needed.  If all the money is distributed elsewhere problems will ensue.

 

The Problem with Innumeracy

I am a numbers guy and I am terrified by what appears to be the general perception that numbers don’t matter when it comes to an emotional issue or pre-conceived idea.  This post explains what I mean by data numeracy and offers examples of the problems I worry about.

The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Meteorology

One of my responsibilities over my career was reporting data from meteorological monitoring stations to regulatory agencies primarily concerned with air pollution transport.  The first problem is that the monitors had to be located where they measured the wind speed and direction that represented the flow in the area.  Ideally the site had to be located in an open field with no nearby obstructions that could affect the wind direction.  Once the wind vane was up and running it was not enough to just report all the data collected.  There is a vital quality control check to make sure the data are realistic.  To do that I developed a program to review the data for oddities.  For example, if the wind direction did not vary at all for several hours that period would be flagged for further review.  If the temperature was below freezing and there was precipitation at the monitor then I would check the local weather station for freezing rain.  If that was observed then it was clearly appropriate to flag the data as missing and note in the data submitted to the regulatory agency that there was freezing rain.  The regulatory agency could easily check that decision and in the end, everyone was confident that the data submitted accurately represented the air pollution transport conditions in the area.

Emissions

Another responsibility of mine was to report data from continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) from power plants.  Coming from my background it seemed logical that the data should be reviewed in a similar fashion as the meteorological data.  The problem is that there are physical relationships between weather parameters that make it much easier to flag problems.  Eventually I developed a system to review the data in a reproducible manner basically by looking for outliers and trends in the data.  My process flagged data that needed to be checked.  It was possible to compare the raw data against operating information and other information to see if the outlying data were just odd or incorrect.  The analysis did not say that the data were wrong only that they needed to be reviewed and validated.

In some cases, the numbers were measured correctly but were not representative. For example, during startup and shutdown fuel combustion processes are inefficient and some pollutant levels are high.  However, if your concern is the long-term average you don’t want to weigh those short-term values too much because they bias the result.  The Environmental Protection Agency uncritically used the CEMS data[1] in a couple of instances and proposed inappropriate limits as a result.

Global Warming

I am irritated by those who make claims that climate change effects are being observed now whenever there is an extreme weather event or a new weather record and have documented instances where the message is incorrect.  In the first place, the message is never that there might be good news associated with warming and more CO2 but always it is a sign of imminent, inevitable Armageddon.  I could write many posts on examples of this but just want to make a point about temperature trends.  Recall that when setting up a meteorological sensor you have to consider whether it will make representative measurements.  When measuring temperature trends, a big concern is whether conditions around the sensor are changing and over long periods of time that is difficult.  In addition, changes to the observing methods or instruments themselves all affect the trend and have to be considered when evaluating the results.  Ultimately measuring temperature trends is not easy and picking and choosing trends has over-hyped the observed global warming.  Not considering the data correctly for the task at hand undermines the concept that CO2 is the control knob for climate change.

Conclusion

Data numeracy recognizes that data should be reviewed and irregularities need to be checked.  Inconsistent data patterns do not prove that there is a problem only that further review is necessary.  If the data are audited in an open and transparent manner then everyone can be confident in the result.  Sadly, too many people will not accept numerical results that run counter to their pre-conceived notions and biases.

My personal experiences with data reporting were in regulatory contexts that in the big scheme of things don’t matter much.  But I think the data I submitted was unambiguous and believe that my results could withstand scrutiny.  On the other hand, the implications of global warming are a big deal because they are being used as the rationale to completely over-haul the entire energy system of New York and the world.  Unfortunately, much of the numerical evidence purportedly proving that global warming is occurring is ambiguous and the results do not standup to close scrutiny.  My concern is that when I have gone through the process to evaluate data to check a climate change impact and shown that the claim is not supported by the evidence it has not been uncommon that people reject the results.

UPDATE – Revised on January 14, 2021

That brings me to the Election of 2020.  From what I have observed there were sufficient irregularities in the presidential election results that an open and transparent audit of the election results was appropriate.  For example, a verification analysis similar to ones I have done in the past looked at data with an algorithm looking for instances of unusually large sudden additions of votes in batches much faster than almost all the others, and far above the “normal” pace. “Odd” in this case means absurdly unusual — in Minnesota one dump at 5:30am was a net gain of 113,755 Biden votes at 19 standard deviations from normal or a probability of 1 in 1081. I am aware of one instance of a computer forensics analysis of the Dominion Voting System in one county in one state.  Something similar is needed anywhere “odd” data were observed.  These issues do not prove anything except that further review is needed.  I hope that there were valid reasons for the irregularities but now it appears we will never know.

In my opinion the failure to follow up and determine exactly what was going on with these irregularities was a massive failure and anyone who argues that it was unnecessary doesn’t understand, does not want to understand, or is covering up.   The failure to reconcile the data undermines my trust in the process and the system itself.

 

[1] For example, an arithmetic average of mostly startup data was used to say that facilities were not using their air pollution equipment correctly.

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Potential Savings of Future Global Warming

On July 18, 2019 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency.  It was described as the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country when Cuomo signed the legislation.  However, no one has shown what effect this law could actually have on global temperatures.  This post provides that information.

I am following the implementation of the CLCPA closely because its implementation affects my future as a New Yorker.  Given the cost impacts for other jurisdictions that have implemented renewable energy resources to meet targets at much less stringent levels, I am convinced that the costs in New York will be enormous and my analyses have supported that concern.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Analysis

For this analysis I simply adapted the calculations in Analysis of US and State-By-State Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Potential “Savings” In Future Global Temperature and Global Sea Level Rise[1]  to estimate the potential effect.  This analysis of U.S. and state by state carbon dioxide 2010 emissions relative to global emissions quantifies the relative numbers and the potential “savings” in future global temperature and global sea level rise.   These estimates are based on MAGICC: Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change so they represent projected changes based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates.  All I did in my calculation was to pro-rate the United States impacts by the ratio of different New York inventory emissions divided by United States emissions to determine the effects of a complete cessation of all New York’s emissions.

There is a fundamental assumption in this approach.  The emissions in the primary reference are based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodologies.  In order for these estimates to be correct the emission inventories have to be calculated the same way.  New York’s CLCPA inventory only followed IPCC approaches when the results comported with the political narrative and differ when more “appropriate” numbers can be derived.  The largest issue in this regard is that the CLCPA inventory includes upstream emissions from the extraction and transport of fossil fuels so their inventories include emissions from outside the state.  Consequently, you cannot directly compare New York’s inventory to other jurisdictions because of the double counting of these emissions.  The CLCPA inventory also uses a global warming potential GWP) of 20 years whereas everyone else uses GWP of 100 years.  The CLCPA regulation does provide the GWP-100 emissions for comparison purposes and in the response to my comment about the upstream component I was assured that somebody else would address that problem some day some place.  In the meantime, we cannot directly compare inventories.

Next best thing is to provide all the inventory results for your information.  The official CLCPA 1990 emission inventory was recently promulgated in New York’s Part 496 regulation.  As shown in the CCPA Part 496 Potential “Savings” in Future Global Temperature I estimated the benefits of getting 1990 emissions to zero for four inventories.  I evaluated the CLCPA Part 496 inventories for all the greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, PFCs, HFCs and SF6) included in the law and just CO2.  In order to compare the potential effects the way the rest of the world prepares inventories, I evaluated the CO2 and GHG inventories from Table S-1 in the last New York State Energy Research and Development Authority inventory.

Results

The table shows that for the CLCPA Part 496 inventories there would be a reduction, or a “savings,” of between approximately 0.0097°C and 0.0081°C by the year 2100.  To give you an idea of how small these temperature changes are consider changes with elevation and latitude.  Generally, temperature decreases three (3) degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000-foot increase in elevation above sea level.  The projected temperature difference for all the greenhouse gases is the same as a 39-inch change or 32 inches if only the CO2 emissions are considered.  The general rule is that temperature changes three (3) degrees Fahrenheit for every 300-mile change in latitude at an elevation of sea level.  The projected temperature change is the same as a change in latitude of less than a mile.  The impacts calculated using inventories the way the rest of the world calculates them are even less.

The CLCPA should also be considered relative to the rest of the world.  According to the China Electricity Council, about 29.9 gigawatts of new coal power capacity was added in 2019 and a further 46 GW of coal-fired power plants are under construction.  If you assume that the new coal plants are super-critical units with an efficiency of 44% and have a capacity factor of 80%, the reductions provided by the CLCPA greenhouse gas inventory will be replaced by the added 2019 Chinese capacity in less than two years or four and a half years if the 2019 capacity and the units under construction are combined.  Recall that the CLCPA inventory is incompatible with IPCC methods.  When using the compatible NYSERDA inventories New York’s impact on global warming will be replaced by the added 2019 Chinese capacity in less than on year or two and a half years if the 2019 capacity and the units under construction are combined.

Conclusion

There is an obvious reason that New York has never provided an estimate of the impact of any of its greenhouse gas reduction initiatives on global warming.  The impacts are simply too small to be measured much less have an effect on any of the purported damages of greenhouse gas emissions.  In the context of global emissions New York’s efforts will be subsumed quickly by other countries that are morally obligated to provide the tangible benefits of affordable abundant energy to their citizens.  At this time those benefits are only possible using fossil fuels.  Until such time that there is a lower cost alternative to fossil fuels for those countries it is immoral to expect them to forgo those benefits because of marginal climate impacts as aptly explained by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg in his book “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet”.

 

 

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Deep Carbonization Workshop

On December 8, 2020, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hosted the “Deep Decarbonization Workshop”.  Given the enormous challenges ahead of New York trying to transition the electric energy system to be completely free of fossil-fired generation by 2040 I naively assumed that the workshop would focus on decarbonization technologies that could be used to help New York achieve its ambitious Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) goals.  Instead, with one exception, it was an infomercial for solutions that ignored New York’s specific needs and any limitations of the technologies described.

Background

On July 18, 2019 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency.  It was described as the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country when Cuomo signed the legislation.  I have summarized the schedule, implementation components, and provide links to the legislation itself at CLCPA Summary Implementation Requirements.

The CLCPA mandates that a scoping plan outlining the recommendations for attaining the statewide greenhouse gas emissions shall be prepared and approved by December 31, 2021.  The Climate Action Council and seven advisory panels: transportation, energy intensive and trade-exposed industries, land-use and local government, energy efficiency and housing, power generation, waste, and agriculture and forestry consisting political appointees and supported by agency staff are charged with this responsibility. 

Many of these political appointees were chosen to satisfy particular constituencies rather than for their technical expertise.  I maintain that it would be appropriate for them all to be given an overview of how the energy system, in general, and the electric system, in particular work.  Without that foundational knowledge I fear that their strategy recommendations will either not be grounded in reality or not be effective solutions.  Against that backdrop I hoped the workshop would address this need.

Instead, ”The workshop will feature presentations from nationally renowned technical experts such as the keynote speaker, Saul Griffith, a distinguished energy systems expert, inventor, entrepreneur, and engineer. Mr. Griffith, along with other experts, will discuss the opportunities and challenges around innovative climate solutions such as carbon capture; utilization and storage; green-hydrogen; hydrofluorocarbon replacements and process chemicals; and long-duration storage. The workshop will also feature a roundtable discussion with leading environmental justice advocates across New York State to explore how innovation in decarbonization can help advance environmental justice priorities.”

The CLCPA is the embodiment of the idea that political will can implement policies to meet stringent greenhouse gas reduction targets.  I believe many of the appointees accept that without question.  If anything, this workshop further misled those people.  Nothing in the workshop suggested that there might not be readily available proven technologies capable of replacing fossil fuels, much less the possibility that nothing exists today to solve the multi-day winter doldrum problem. This post briefly describes the presentations and missing context relative to the CLCPA.

Keynote Presentation

Saul Griffith set the tone of the workshop in his keynote presentation. His 15-minute presentation featured 53 slides so you can imagine his carnival barker schtick.  Don’t get me wrong the guy is brilliant. According to the Rewiring America website: “As Founder and Chief Scientist at Otherlab, an independent R&D lab, Saul Griffith helps government agencies and Fortune 500 companies understand energy infrastructure and deep decarbonization. He’s been a principal investigator and project lead on federally-funded research projects for agencies including NASA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-e), National Science Foundation and United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). He was awarded the MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2007.”

Unfortunately, his spiel is unrealistic magical thinking.  The underlying premise of his presentation was that a commitment to electrification and decarbonization makes it substantially easier to meet our energy demands.  He claims that 25% of our primary energy needs can be eliminated using distributed renewable energy generation because it reduces energy losses in production and transmission.

He goes on to claim that electrification of heating using heat pumps for homes, offices and some industry eliminates 6-7% more.  He illustrated how that is supposed to work in the following slide.

I will end my description of his presentation with this comment.  Griffith is from Australia and lives in the San Francisco area.  He is not familiar with the Upstate New York winter reality.  Here is my house in a typical winter.  His proposed plan is never going to work here.  By the way it usually is this cloudy and the snow was not particularly deep in this picture.  I can tell because I did not clean the snow off the roof.  One other issue with our winters is the occasional ice storm.  What do these people think will happen when there is no electricity for extended periods? 

Long Duration Storage

Scott Litzelman from U.S. Department of Energy – Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy gave the most relevant presentation “Long-Duration Energy Storage as a Decarbonization Enabler”.  The organizers should have explained the connection between this resource and the E3 analysis Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in New York State – Final Report . E3 has explained that Firm capacity is the amount of energy available for power production which can be guaranteed to be available at a given time. As the share of variable resources like wind and solar grows substantially, firm capacity resources will be needed to ensure year-round reliability, especially during periods of low renewables output.”   While it should be obvious that long-duration storage is needed for firm capacity resources I don’t think that all of the political appointees recognize the enormity of the particular challenge in New York.  The workshop squandered what would have been a perfect opportunity to make the point that if they cannot solve that problem this won’t work.

The presentation itself was pretty technical.  For the Climate Action Council and Advisory Panel members the presentation should have addressed the specifics of New York’s targets.  More importantly, there was no discussion whether the technologies discussed might be ready to be deployed in time for use to meet the CLCPA targets.

Hydrogen

Sunita Satyapal, Director- Hydrogen Program, U.S. Department of Energy, presentation “U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and Global Perspectives” was a pep talk for a hydrogen economy.  For example, he claimed that there has been a 25-fold increase in deployment in the last decade of electrolyzers that produce hydrogen.  Whether the world-wide deployment of 25 MW in 2019 offers hope or not was not discussed.  Just for context, On September 10, 2020 the Analysis Group presented a discussion of draft recent observations as part of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) Climate Change Phase II Study.  Their analysis included a generic resource that I think is the biggest problem for the CLCPA.  They call this resource the Dispatchable & Emissions-Free Resource.  It was “included to maintain reliability during the highest load hours of each modeling period” to “provide the majority of energy on the peak winter hour during the CLCPA load scenario”.  Their analysis shows that this category makes up 19% (32,137 MW) of the total capacity for their projected CLCPA load scenario.  Clearly hydrogen deployment with a world-wide deployment of 25 MW has a long way to go to provide any meaningful support to the CLCPA.  The rest of the presentation described many potential hydrogen technologies but completely ignored the context of the implementation needs for the CLCPA.  Completely ignored were the significant technological issues with hydrogen and the weak economic case.

Dr. S. Julio Friedmann, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University gave a presentation entitled “Circular Carbon Economy with Carbon Capture, Carbon to Value, and CO2 Removal”.  His circular carbon economy consists of four components: reducing CO2 emissions, reusing CO2 where possible, recycling CO2 by altering their composition, and removing CO2 after it is produced.  The emphasis was on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) in different forms.  He claimed there are 20 operating plants that are storing 35 million tons of CO2 per year worldwide.  He also claimed that the science and technology is well established.  According to the International Energy Agency there were 33 giga tons of CO2 emissions in 2019.  In other words, CCS is treating about one thousandth of the world’s emissions.  Again, there was no discussion of CCS in the context of New York.  Importantly, for it to be viable in New York there have to be locations where it can be stored but that issue was not discussed.

The final presentation, “Keeping cool without warming the planet (alt: heat pumps that don’t heat the globe), Climate Friendly Alternatives for High GWP Hydrofluorocarbons”, was presented by Kristen N. Taddonio, Senior Climate & Energy Advisor, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.  According to her, hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) have high global warming potential, climate friendly HFC alternatives can avoid up to 0.5 °C of warming and combining energy efficiency can avoid another 0.5 °C of warming.  I accept that there are climate friendly alternatives but am a little leery of the claims that 1 °C of warming can be avoided.  Just how much warming are they expecting?  More importantly is the New York context.  New York’s CLCPA 1990 emission inventory only has a total of 0.05 million metric tons global warming potential of HFC (less than 0.1% of the total) and the latest NYSERDA inventory has 10.37 million metric tons global warming potential of HFC which is less than 5% of the total.  We will have to wait to see what the current emission inventory fraction of HFC will be but I have no reason to believe it will be a significant fraction of the total emissions inventory. 

Conclusion

The CLCPA deep de-carbonization workshop wasted a perfect opportunity to bring some reality to the implementation challenges to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% from the 1990 baseline by 2030, produce all electricity from zero-emission sources by 2040, and reach net-zero by 2050.  Based on my observations of panel discussions I believe many of the individuals charged with the responsibility for developing the scoping plan to implement strategies to meet those goals do not understand the enormity of this task.  A workshop to explain how energy systems work and quantify how much energy is needed and where to provide reliable power would give the panel members a common basis. 

Instead, the workshop mostly reinforced the notion that CLCPA targets will be met because of the political will of the State.  Long-duration energy storage is the key need and the presentation provided some hope in this regard.  Unfortunately, the presentation did not address the availability or applicability to New York so it is not clear if there is a viable solution to this critical requirement in the timeframe needed.  The keynote, hydrogen, and carbon sequestration presentations all sound great superficially but no context relative to the New York needs was given and they all have serious technological or implementation issues.  The hydrofluorocarbon presentation showed that there may be a solution to address this greenhouse gas but there was no mention of the fact that this is not a big deal for New York.

Finally, the workshop included an environmental justice representative roundtable discussion.  I did not listen to that, there are no slides from it and no recording has been posted. 

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Implementation Strategies Overview

On July 18, 2019 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which establishes targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable electricity production, and improving energy efficiency.  It was described as the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country when Cuomo signed the legislation.  In the past year strategies to implement this legislation have started to take shape and this post summarizes the strategies presented to the Climate Action Council at the last two meetings in 2020.  This is an overview post that puts the strategy material in one place. I will address the specific advisory panel strategies as time permits.

I am following the implementation of the CLCPA closely because its implementation affects my future as a New Yorker.  Given the cost impacts for other jurisdictions that have implemented renewable energy resources to meet targets at much less stringent levels, I am convinced that the costs in New York will be enormous and my analyses have supported that concern.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Background

I have summarized the schedule, implementation components, and provide links to the legislation itself at CLCPA Summary Implementation Requirements.  Section § 75-0103 in the CLCPA establishes the New York state Climate Action Council (CAC). The CAC is charged with planning responsibility:

“The council shall on or before two years of the effective date of this article, prepare and approve a scoping plan outlining the recommendations for attaining the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits in accordance with the schedule established in section 75-0107 of this article, and for the reduction of emissions beyond eighty-five percent, net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy, which shall inform the state energy planning board’s adoption of a state energy plan in accordance with section 6-104 of the energy law. The first state energy plan issued subsequent to completion of the scoping plan required by this section shall incorporate the recommendations of the council. “

In order to “provide recommendations to the council on specific topics, in its preparation of the scoping plan, and interim updates to the scoping plan, and in fulfilling the council’s ongoing duties”, the CAC (§ 75-0103, 7) “shall convene advisory panels requiring special expertise and, at a minimum, shall establish advisory panels on transportation, energy intensive and trade-exposed industries, land-use and local government, energy efficiency and housing, power generation, and agriculture and forestry”.

CLCPA implementation was proscribed by the legislation.   In order to “provide recommendations to the council on specific topics, in its preparation of the scoping plan, and interim updates to the scoping plan, and in fulfilling the council’s ongoing duties”, the CAC (§ 75-0103, 7) “shall convene advisory panels requiring special expertise and, at a minimum, shall establish advisory panels on transportation, energy intensive and trade-exposed industries, land-use and local government, energy efficiency and housing, power generation, and agriculture and forestry”.  Once the process started it became clear that another panel covering waste would be needed.

Strategies

During the last two Climate Action Council meetings the transportation, energy intensive and trade-exposed industries, land-use and local government, energy efficiency and housing, power generation, and agriculture and forestry advisory panels presented their strategies. Each strategy was presented in a slide that listed the rationale, equity considerations, potential implementation challenges, issues to explore, and additional thoughts. The waste panel started late and did not present a strategy in the same format.

In the following I list the strategies for each panel and link to an extracted copy of their presentation to the Climate Action Council.  You can also listen to their presentations and get the meeting power point slides for the 24 November 2020 and 15 December 2020 meetings where these strategies were presented.

Land Use and Local Government Advisory Panel

This advisory panel presented ten strategies from three subgroups.

      • Land Use Strategies
          • Promote and facilitate county and inter-municipal smart growth planning efforts, including focusing development in priority growth centers
          • Build capacity at the regional level and provide support to municipalities to promote smart growth, facilitate clean energy siting, and reduce vehicle miles traveled
          • Promote coordinated regional approaches to meet climate goals while integrating transportation, housing, and land conservation needs
          • Streamline and incentivize Smart Growth project review
          • Coordinate State planning funds/activities/entities to ensure that transportation, housing, and conservation actions are not in conflict and achieve VMT, clean energy, and equity goals
      • Clean Energy Strategies
          • Establish statewide higher energy codes, benchmarking, building performance mandates, and PACE Financing to avoid a patchwork of policies.
          • Encourage local governments to initiate CCA programs and community campaigns to increase local access to clean energy products and services.
          • Overcome legal, financial, regulatory, and technical barriers to greening municipal building, facilities, and fleets
      • Adaptation and Resilience Strategies
          • Develop policies, programs and resources to reduce risks associated with acute climate hazards
          • Seek to ensure State and local investments assess climate change and resiliency impacts of projects

Energy Efficiency and Housing

This advisory panel presented 16 strategies in six categories.

      • Mandates that require energy efficiency improvements and on-site emissions in building and appliance with dates as market signal
          • Expand State energy & building codes (w/date signals) -> transition to electrification & building efficiency;
          • Modify State Appliance Standards (e.g. ban fossil fuel appliances sale/install.). Consider building performance standards for large buildings to meet 2050 & interim targets –focus on onsite emissions.
      • Financing and incentives for building efficiency and electrification at scale
          • Inducing market/behavioral change (e.g. taxes, registration fees, carbon levies) that incentivize market providers (owners, developers, lenders etc.) & residents to reduce emissions & transition to electrification;
          • Shift lenders to quantify energy efficiency in single/multifamily/commercial (e.g. underwriting to savings);
          • Financial incentives for owners, developers and residents (e.g. cash incentives, pay as you save, low-interest financing, more agile of existing programs to get to 2050 and interim targets, etc), with emphasis on LMI.
      • Training and education of building decarbonization to improve behavior and operations for health and comfort and build workforce (enabling strategy)
          • Workforce development to provide skilled pros to design, build, operate, & enforce decarbonized building stock;
          • Education -owners, developers, design professionals and other stakeholders: resources on capital planning, all-electric buildings, electrification-ready, etc. Mandatory energy performance disclosures & building consumption data (public facing); certified product declarations for materials/equipment; etc.
          • Education-residents/businesses: performance, econ., environmental quality, O&M for low-carbon tech.
      • Technology innovation and demonstration to drive better performance, reduce costs, and increase customer confidence
          • R&D to improve cost/performance of solutions for all-electric buildings (e.g., cold climate heat pumps, geothermal, etc.)
          • R&D & demon. for hard-to-electrify buildings (e.g., on district steam, steam-heated, hydronic distribution) & advance scalable solutions & potential cost reductions (e.g., community geothermal, industrialized fabric/modular, virtual tools);
          • De-risking demos to help critical customer groups who make lack access to resources/info (e.g., coops/condos);
          • Approaches to reducing embodied carbon (e.g. new tech to reduce GHG emissions from materials/construction/transp.)
      • Resilience and climate adaptation strategies for all-electric building, hazard mitigation planning and building retrofits
          • Supporting/coordinating improved resiliency solutions for all-electric building & resilient spaces for vulnerable pops.;
          • Grid and transmission resilience and independence;
          • Electrification paired with supplemental heating sources;
          • Improving building stock to withstand the impacts of climate change.

Agriculture and Forestry

This advisory panel presented 12 strategies in six categories.

      • Livestock/Dairy Management
          • Alternative Manure Management
          • Precision Feed Management
      • Soil Health and Nutrient Management
          • Nutrient (Fertilizer) Management
    • Soil Carbon Sequestration
      • Agroforestry
          • Silvopasture, Alley Cropping, and Riparian Forest Buffers
      • Land Conversions
          • Agricultural Protection and Access
          • No Net Loss of Forestland
      • Forestry:
          • Urban Forestry
          • Statewide Afforestation/Reforestation Efforts
          • Improved Forest Management
          • Increase Manufacture and Use of Harvested Wood Products
      • Bioeconomy
          • Support opportunities to substitute fossil fuels

Transportation

This advisory panel presented six strategies in four categories.

      • Transportation Electrification
          • Adopt regulatory approaches and supporting policies to increase the sale of M/HD ZEVs to 30% by 2030 and the sale of LD ZEVs to 100% by 2035, and require greater use of ZEV non-road vehicles.
      • Clean Fuels
          • Adopt a market-based approach and supporting policies to increase the availability and affordability of clean transportation fuels (renewable biofuels, green hydrogen, electricity) in NYS.
      • Public Transportation
          • Identify policies and programs that would double the availability/accessibility of upstate and downstate suburban public transportation services statewide by 2035;
    • Identify policies and programs to support system reliability/network expansion projects identified by MTA in their twenty-year needs study.
      • Smart Growth and Transportation System Efficiency
          • Transportation-Oriented Development—Align roadway, residential and commercial development to be proximate and accessible to public transportation and consider holistic GHG emissions in smart growth developments;
          • Low-and Zero-Carbon Transportation Modes—Expand access to low-or zero-carbon transportation modes (biking, walking, carpooling) for first mile/last mile connections to transit and destinations.

Power Generation

This panel presented ten strategies in four categories

      • Equity
          • Community Impact–Develop recommendations to identify and proactively address community impacts relating to health concerns, access to renewables and energy efficiency, and siting
          • Access and Affordability for all (Enabling) –Develop recommendations to ensure New Yorkers have access and can afford to participate meaningfully in NYS’s clean energy future
          • Workforce Development (Enabling) –Develop recommendations to enable an equitable clean energy workforce
      • Barriers
          • Clean Energy Siting
          • Energy Delivery & Hosting Capacity
      • Solutions for the Future
          • Technology and Research Needs
          • Market Solutions –Maximize the market participation of different technologies in a way that adds to system efficiency & send correct price signals to resources over time
      • Resource Mix
          • Growth of renewable generation and Energy Efficiency
          • Effectively Transitioning away from Fossil Fuel Energy Generation
          • Deploying Energy Storage and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

Energy-Intensive and Trade-Exposed Industries

This panel presented 12 strategies in six categories.

      • Provide financial incentives and technical assistance for the decarbonization of the EIETE sectors
          • Provide technical assistance to help identify economically viable decarbonization pathways and to provide comprehensive energy management planning
          • Provide financial incentives for decarbonization projects
          • Refer economic assistance recipients to resources that will result in lower-emitting projects
          • Leverage low-cost hydropower to provide support for industry
      • Create incentives for business to capitalize on low-carbon economy opportunities
          • Create preferential standards for the public procurement of low-carbon building materials
      • Identify and support technological innovations to enable deep industrial decarbonization
          • Develop a comprehensive Innovation Roadmap to address knowledge gaps and to guide key priorities for deep decarbonization investment in the areas of carbon-tech, low-carbon fuels, and carbon removal
          • R&D funding for early stage decarbonization technologies
          • Demonstration pilot funding for high impact solutions in coordination with private market
          • Identify potential for innovation clusters to leverage supply chains and infrastructure for novel solutions
      • Workforce development training to support energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries
          • Provide workforce development on existing and new innovative emission reduction technologies that effect EITE industries
      • Increase the available data on industrial GHG emissions to help prioritize efforts and monitor progress
          • Expand the universe of industrial facilities that are required to report on their GHG emissions.
      • Provide economic incentives to grow the green economy
          • Leverage the State’s climate policies to develop an in-state supply chain of green economy companies by engaging in business development discussions and offering incentives through programs such as NYSTAR, NY Ventures and Excelsior Tax Credits.

Summary

Now the implementation work begins.  There is an enormous amount of information in these strategies.  In the first place consider that the six advisory panels presented a total of 66 strategies in 29 categories:

        • Land Use and Local Government Advisory Panel: ten strategies in three categories
        • Energy Efficiency and Housing: 16 strategies in six categories.
        • Agriculture and Forestry: 12 strategies in six categories.
        • Transportation: six strategies in four categories
        • Power Generation: ten strategies in four categories
        • Energy-Intensive and Trade-Exposed Industries: 12 strategies in six categories.

Given that many strategies I believe the first task is to start to rank the importance of the strategies.  But in order to do that the Climate Action Council has to establish its priorities.  Is it to maintain reliability and affordability of the energy supply, is it meet the CLCPA emission reduction targets, or is it equity for all?

Someone, somewhere will need to summarize these strategies so they can be ranked by the importance criteria established by the Council.  Despite the massive amount of information there still are many things missing.   For example, technological feasibility, GHG reduction potential, and most importantly to me, costs are all will be needed.  Stay tuned.