Climate Act and the Gold Book

One of the difficulties addressing the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (Climate Act) is that there are so many numbers associated with so many aspects of the mandated transition to net zero.  One problem with the numbers is that quality varies so much .  There is one source of New York electric system data that is of such high quality that it is the gold standard and has been referred to as the gold book for many years.  This post provides links to the latest version that came out on April 28 and provides an example of how I use the data.

I have been following the Climate Act since it was first proposed. I submitted comments on the Climate Act implementation plan and have written over 300 articles about New York’s net-zero transition because I believe the ambitions for a zero-emissions economy embodied in the Climate Act outstrip available renewable technology such that the net-zero transition will do more harm than good.  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.

Climate Act Background

The Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (Climate Act) established a New York “Net Zero” target (85% reduction and 15% offset of emissions) by 2050 and an interim 2030 target of a 40% reduction by 2030. The Climate Action Council is responsible for preparing the Scoping Plan that outlines how to “achieve the State’s bold clean energy and climate agenda.”  In brief, that plan is to electrify everything possible and power the electric gride with zero-emissions generating resources by 2040.  The Integration Analysis prepared by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and its consultants quantifies the impact of the electrification strategies.  That material was used to write a Draft Scoping Plan.  After a year-long review the Scoping Plan recommendations were finalized at the end of 2022.  In 2023 the Scoping Plan recommendations are supposed to be implemented through regulation and legislation.

Gold Book

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) 2023 Load & Capacity Data Report (also known as the “Gold Book”) is now available and has been posted on the NYISO website: 2023 Load & Capacity Data Report (Gold Book).  The overview describes the contents:

In this Load and Capacity Data report (“Gold Book”), the New York Independent System Operator, Inc. (“NYISO”) presents load and capacity data for 2023 and future years. Energy and peak forecasts are provided through 2053 by NYISO Load Zone (referenced in the rest of this document as “Zone”) and for the New York Control Area (“NYCA”). Generating capacity is projected through 2033. The information reported in this document is current as of March 15, 2023, unless otherwise noted. The seven sections of this Gold Book address the following topics:

  • Historical and forecast seasonal peak demand and energy usage, and energy efficiency, electrification, and other distributed energy resources and load-modifying impacts;
  • Existing and proposed generation and other capacity resources; and
  • Existing and proposed transmission facilities.

It is particularly useful because many of the most useful tables are also provided as spreadsheets.  The following supplemental materials have also been posted:
2023 NYCA Existing Generating Facilities
2023 Gold Book Baseline Forecast Tables
2023 Gold Book Higher Demand Policy Scenario Tables
2023 Gold Book Lower Demand Policy Scenario Tables
2023 Gold Book Forecast Graphs

New York Wind Resources

The capacity factor is a useful metric to understand electric generation resources.  The annual capacity factor equals the actual observed generation (MWh) divided by maximum possible generation (capacity (MW) times the 8,760 hours.  Table III – 2a in the NYCA existing generating facilities spreadsheet lists generating station data that can be used to calculate capacity factors for each generating facility in the state.  I developed a spreadsheet that calculates the capacity factors for all the current New York State wind facilities, excerpted below.  Note that these are all onshore wind facilities because no offshore wind has been developed yet.

Last year I used the Gold Book data to evaluate New York wind resources.  I found that there are limitations to New York’s wind resource capability.  Dietmar Detering and I have corresponded about the Integration Analysis wind resource projections.  He has found that “The Integration Analysis predicts between 10,997 MW and 13,239 MW of land-based wind installed within New York by 2050, and estimates annual generation between 31,224 GWh and 37,896 GWh which corresponds to a capacity factor of about 33%.  The capacity factor table shows that the maximum state-wide capacity was 28% in 2014 and was 25.1% in 2022.  In order to accurately estimate how many wind resources will be needed those discrepancies need to be reconciled.

In last year’s post I discussed the results. In 2021 the lowest value was the most recent so I suggested that New York’s decreasing capacity factors could reflect the age of the fleet.  However,  in 2022 the capacity factor went up again.  I don’t see any general relationship between the age of most of the units and capacity factor reductions except for the two oldest facilities.  The Madison and Western NY facilities came on line in 2000. Given that there was no generation in 2022 for Western NY I presume that it has been retired.  Madison capacity factors the last two years have been about half of the generation in previous years.  As far as I can tell the Integration Analysis assumes “indefinite” expected lifetimes for energy storage, wind and solar infrastructure and assigns lifetimes to other resources despite the fact that expected renewable resource lifetimes are half that of other resources.  Based on this information ignoring expected lifetimes is inappropriate.

Finally, there is another aspect of the Integration Analysis that is too simplistic.  The observed capacity factors over the last ten years show quite a bit of variability between the various wind facilities and between each year.  In order to provide adequate renewable energy, this variability must be considered.  In particular, if the average wind capacity factors are used to project how much wind capacity is needed, then when there is a year with low wind availability there won’t be enough energy available.  I have seen no indication that the Integration Analysis considered this aspect.


The aptly named Gold Book is the ultimate source for New York electricity system data.  There is a wealth of information about New York’s load and generating resources.  This post showed just one example of the usefulness of the data relative to understanding the Climate Act transition plan. Unfortunately, the Integration Analysis did not incorporate information in the Gold Book.  As shown here the Scoping Plan estimates of wind resources needed apparently do not consider inter-annual variability.  The capacity factor used in the analysis is more representative of an upper bound than a realistic value for planning purposes.  As a result, the projected wind resources needed are lower than what will be needed to keep the lights on and the costs needed to provide the power are lower than they should be.

Author: rogercaiazza

I am a meteorologist (BS and MS degrees), was certified as a consulting meteorologist and have worked in the air quality industry for over 40 years. I author two blogs. Environmental staff in any industry have to be pragmatic balancing risks and benefits and ( reflects that outlook. The second blog addresses the New York State Reforming the Energy Vision initiative ( Any of my comments on the web or posts on my blogs are my opinion only. In no way do they reflect the position of any of my past employers or any company I was associated with.

One thought on “Climate Act and the Gold Book”

  1. Good review of the NYISO’s just released Gold Book. As you have recognized, it is an excellent source of information based on real world experiences rather than the wishes and hopes of so many that advocate new technologies before they are ready for real time.

    Liked by 1 person

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