The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) publishes an annual a comprehensive summary of energy statistics and data on energy consumption, supply sources, and price and expenditure information for New York State called Patterns and Trends. On July 18, 2019 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which establishes targets of 70 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. This post evaluates some of the data in the latest edition, Patterns and Trends – New York State Energy Profiles: 2003-2017, to assess where the state stands now relative to those Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act targets.
I have written extensively on implementation of the CLCPA because I believe the solutions proposed are not feasible with present technology, will adversely affect affordability and reliability, that wind and solar deployment will have worse impacts on the environment than the purported effects of climate change, and, at the end of the day, meeting the targets cannot measurably affect global warming when implemented. 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.
For anyone interested in New York energy information the Patterns and Trends documents are a great resource. One thing that I particularly like is that when you click on a table there is a link to a spreadsheet with all the data. For space reasons the report does not list all the numbers but the underlying spreadsheet includes everything. Unfortunately, during the Cuomo Administration, the annual updates are lagging further and further behind. In January 2011, the report updated with data through the end of 2009 was published 13 months after the end of the year. The latest report available, Patterns and Trends – New York State Energy Profiles: 2003-2017 (“Patterns and Trends”) publication date is March 2021 38 months after the end of the year. I believe that these delays are due to reviews of the data by the Cuomo administration.
New York Historical Energy Sources
Patterns and Trends Section 3: New York State Energy Consumption provides data that can be used to describe the historical trends of electrical energy sources. This section presents data on primary and net energy consumption in New York State by sector and fuel type from 2003 through 2017 in the document but provides data in many cases back to 1990 the base year for the CLCPA. Primary consumption of energy is shown by fuel type in physical units, such as tons, cubic feet, gigawatt-hours (GWh), barrels, and trillion Btu (TBtu). Total primary energy consumption by sector, including residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and electric generation but we will only consider the electric generation sector in this analysis. This Patterns and Trends section also includes information on other fuels, including wood, municipal waste, solar, and geothermal energy. Electricity generation reported does not include generator station use.
Figure 1 lists the historical trend (%) of the sources of electric generation in New York State (NYS) from 1990 to 2017 using data from Table 3-4b in Patterns and Trends. The data shown combine all the fossil fuel sources into one category, list the data from each of the other categories, and combine the CLCPA renewable sources into a category. The CLCPA defines renewable energy sources as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro and nuclear. In 1990 NYS obtained 59% of its electricity from fossil fuels, 38% from CLCPA renewables and imported 3% from out of state. Note that nuclear and hydro accounted for 36% of the renewables, municipal waste, biomass and geothermal under the other category provided 1% but there was no wind and solar electricity generation.
Since 1990 there has been an uneven trend of decreasing fossil fuel use down to 30% in 2017. Net imports has increased to 16%. Since 2001 nuclear generation has provided around 30% and in 2017 provided 32%. Hydro has provided between 15 and 18% since 2001. Biomass and geothermal has stayed at 2% since 2008. Solar had yet to show any significant generation and wind provided 3%. The good news is that fossil is only 70% but the bad news is that imported electricity does not all meet the CLCPA renewable definition so we cannot fully assess the status of energy use relative to the CLCPA targets.
The Patterns and Trends document is a valuable resource for NYS energy analyses. Unfortunately, there is a significant reporting lag so the latest available data is three years old. In order to better address feasibility more recent data are necessary. I will follow this article with a feasibility post with that information.