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 Energy-Intensive and Trade-Exposed Industries 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.
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. 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.
I am not sure what to make of this panel’s charge. Industrial sectors within EITE panel scope include manufacturing, mining, and construction and only total ~7% of State emissions. The types of companies included in these sectors are vastly different so will likely require many different technologies to reduce emissions. They also compete not only with similar companies within New York but also with companies outside the state and country. Energy costs for any company in New York will surely increase as the decarbonization of the energy industry ratchets down emissions, they are being asked to also decrease their emissions with immature and potentially infeasible technologies, and they have to compete with companies unfettered by those constraints. The panel has a Sisyphean task trying to offer any viable strategy.
The Panel has proposed 12 strategies in six topics.
The first scope topic is “Provide financial incentives and technical assistance for the decarbonization of the EITE sectors”. It proposes four strategies:
- 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; and
- Leverage low-cost hydropower to provide support for industry
Clearly if the State wants reductions from this sector it will need to provide assistance but there is no guarantee that there are solutions available for the challenge. The backup is payments to try to reduce costs. It is not clear where this money is going to come from given that every other strategy from every other panel also needs funding.
The panel proposes a strategy to “Create incentives for business to capitalize on low-carbon economy opportunities” that will create preferential standards for the public procurement of low-carbon building materials. If a preferential standard is needed to drive the use of low-carbon building materials it means that alternative is more expensive. That makes it a hidden tax of the program and another instance of increased costs that someone will have to pay.
The third scope topic “Identify and support technological innovations to enable deep industrial decarbonization” proposes four strategies:
- 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; and
- Identify potential for innovation clusters to leverage supply chains and infrastructure for novel solutions
These are all necessary strategies. However, it is not clear how the panel will integrate them into recommendations for the Climate Action Council. At some point the Council will need to recommend specific plans to achieve specific reductions to meet the CLCPA targets and these strategies only can offer the hope that someday, something will be available to meet some unspecified reduction.
There is the obligatory strategy for workforce development training that will provide workforce development on existing and new innovative emission reduction technologies that affect EITE industries. This presumes that there actually be solutions that reduce emissions that keep New York manufacturing, mining, and construction competitive.
There is a strategy to “Increase the available data on industrial GHG emissions to help prioritize efforts and monitor progress” which would require additional industrial facilities to report their GHG emissions. This should be limited only to companies that actually produce GHG emissions. Any company that runs a generator should only be required to provide fuel use information.
The final strategy is to “provide economic incentives to grow the green economy” by leveraging “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”. Again, this means more and more competing for funds from as yet unidentified sources.
As part of a CLCPA mandate to evaluate the impact to energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries, this panel has gone through the motions attempting to address concerns that are likely irreconcilable. In today’s global economy New York’s industrial sector has to compete not only within this country but everywhere else too. The inevitable extra costs of energy will make production more expensive and less competitive. The requirements to make GHG reductions in their industrial processes reduces competitiveness further.