NY Green Deal: Offshore Wind

This is one of a series of posts on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Green New Deal. As part of his 2019 Justice Agenda he included a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy”.

Not surprisingly there are no details other than the announcement, no mention of potential costs, and no explanation how all this will affect any of the many impacts that he claims are caused by climate change. There is a proposal to provide the plan to make New York carbon neutral and I will blog on those plans as they become available. In the meantime this post discusses the language used to describe the plan to make New York the national hub for offshore wind and deploy 9,000 megawatts by 2035 as part of the New York Green New Deal.

In the following sections I list the text from the announcement and my indented and italiczed comments follow.

New York is leading the nation on offshore wind, which, as an emerging clean energy industry in the U.S., has tremendous potential for both the energy sector and economic development in the state. Called for by Governor Cuomo and released in 2018, New York’s Offshore Wind Master Plan is the most comprehensive offshore wind strategy in the country and has charted the course for this energy resource to play a significant role in achieving a carbon-free electricity grid. In November 2018, New York issued its first major offshore wind solicitation for at least 800 megawatts, which will set the stage for large-scale development of this important resource and the economic advantages that come with it.

Although the course has been charted, aside from issuing a solicitation there really hasn’t been any implementation progress.

To ensure New York State is the focal point for offshore wind development and this growing industry, Governor Cuomo is proposing nearly quadrupling the State’s target for offshore wind deployment from 2,400 megawatts by 2030 to 9,000 megawatts by 2035, the most aggressive offshore wind goal in U.S. history.

The more relevant number is MWh or megawatt hour which is the measure of energy. New York State energy announcements usually report new facilities in MW or megawatts or power capacity. I believe this is mis-leading because a cursory comparison of this announcement’s 2,400 MW is close to Indian Point’s 2,311 MW capacity. However because wind energy is intermittent, the 2400 MW will only produce 8,977,000 MWh using National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) 42.7 capacity factor while Indian Point produced 15,305,000 MWh.

 I used the NREL capacity factor to determine the energy produced.   According to the NREL’s 2017 Cost of Wind Energy Review, the levelized cost of energy off-shore wind is over two and a half times more expensive ($124 per MWh vs $47 per MWh). For the 6,000 MW of offshore wind mandated the estimated cost would be $4.174 billion.

To complement this bold statement of national and global leadership, Governor Cuomo is directing new actions, as part of the Green New Deal, to accelerate offshore wind progress in three specific areas: port infrastructure, workforce development, and transmission infrastructure.

Ports: Invest $200 million in New York port infrastructure to unlock private supply chain capital and maximize the long-term economic benefits to the state from the regional development of offshore wind. This multi-location investment would represent the nation’s largest infrastructure commitment to offshore wind and would solidify New York’s position as the hub of the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind industry.

Workforce Development: Establish a New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development and invest in an offshore wind training center that will provide New Yorkers with the skills and safety training required to construct this clean energy technology right here in New York.

Transmission: Initiate a first of its kind effort to evaluate and facilitate the development of an offshore transmission grid that can benefit New York ratepayers by driving down offshore wind generation and integration costs.

In order to get the off-shore wind power to market, we have to add $200 million for port upgrades, train workers at some cost, and build an off-shore transmission grid. The NREL estimate of over $4 billion does not cover all the costs of off-shore wind!

The development and adoption of offshore wind is a critical component of the transition to a clean energy economy and presents a major economic opportunity for New Yorkers, including the creation of thousands of high-quality jobs. With these new commitments, the New York will continue to lead in this exciting and developing field.

Denmark has offered to help New York’s offshore wind development. However, in 2016 the Danish government decided to abort the plans to build five offshore wind power farms, which were to stand ready by 2020.  At the same time, Denmark is also scraping its green energy tariffs and abandoning some of its climate goals. “Since 2012 when we reached the political agreement, the cost of our renewable policy has increased dramatically,” said Minister for Energy and Climate Lars Christian Lilleholt to Reuters.  The real lesson maybe to beware this source of renewable energy.

NY Green Deal: Make Building Stock Carbon Neutral

This is one of a series of posts on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Green New Deal. As part of his 2019 Justice Agenda he included a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy”.

Not surprisingly there are no details other than the announcement, no mention of potential costs, and no explanation how all this will affect any of the many impacts that he claims are caused by climate change. There is a proposal to provide the plan to make New York carbon neutral and I will blog on those plans as they become available. In the meantime this post discusses the plan announcement for a path to make New York buildings carbon neutral as part of the New York Green New Deal.

In the following sections I list the text from the announcement and my indented and italicized comments follow.

Chart a Path to Making New York’s Statewide Building Stock Carbon Neutral

Buildings – and the fossil fuels traditionally used to heat and cool them – are a significant source of energy-related carbon pollution. As such, Governor Cuomo has made the improvement of energy efficiency in buildings a major priority. The Governor’s New Efficiency: New York agenda, released on Earth Day 2018, contains a comprehensive portfolio of proposals and strategies to meet an ambitious new target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs by 2025. In addition, Governor Cuomo launched RetrofitNY in 2016 to stimulate the development of an energy efficiency industry that can tackle the challenge of deep building retrofits that will enhance building performance, reduce energy usage, and improve the quality of life for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

The Green New Deal announcement lays out some specific goals. In order to be credible those goals should be quantified. For example, what is the starting point for on-site energy consumption? An initial guess could use the NYSERDA Patterns and Trends documents table 3-3a nys primarary consumption of energy by sector and assume that residential and commercial sectors represent “on-site energy consumption”. In 2016 residential sector energy consumption was 558 TBtu and commercial sector energy consumption was 379 TBtu for a total of 937 TBtu so a 185 TBtu reduction represents a 20% lower value.

In my opinion energy efficiency is a classic energy example of the Pareto principle or the 80:20 ratio which states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. For energy efficiency it means that you can get 80% of the available reductions at 20% of the cost of doing all the reductions. Consider the anecdote of insulating your home. Adding insulation in the attic gets you a big benefit and is relatively cheap. Adding insulation to the walls gets you less of a benefit but is more expensive. Replacing the windows and doors with more efficient ones is a big expense but doesn’t get that much of a reduction. Those are the easy energy efficiency projects and anything else is going to cost a lot and not get much of an improvement.

  Wallet Hub analyzed state energy efficiency (https://wallethub.com/edu/most-and-least-energy-efficient-states/7354/). Their conclusions are highlighted below[1]:

To identify the most energy-efficient states, WalletHub analyzed data for 48 states based on two key dimensions, including “home-energy efficiency” and “car-energy efficiency.” We obtained the former by calculating the ratio between the total residential energy consumption and annual degree days. For the latter, we divided the annual vehicle miles driven by gallons of gasoline consumed. Each dimension was weighted proportionally to reflect national consumption patterns.

In order to obtain the final ranking, we attributed a score between 0 and 100 to correspond with the value of each dimension. We then calculated the weighted sum of the scores and used the overall score to rank the states. Together, the points attributed to the two major categories add up to 100 points.

Home-Energy Efficiency – Total Points: 55

Home-Energy Efficiency = Total Residential Energy Consumption per Capita / Degree-Days

Car-Energy Efficiency – Total Points: 45

Car-Energy Efficiency = Annual Vehicle Miles Driven / Gallons of Gasoline Consumed

The Wallethub rankings are listed in Table 1 2015 energy efficiency RGGI state rankings. New York ranked number one. This suggests to me that New York has already implemented most of the easy low hanging fruit of the available energy efficiency opportunities.

 Because buildings are one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, Governor Cuomo is announcing a comprehensive strategy as part of the Green New Deal to move New York’s building stock to carbon neutrality. The agenda includes:

Advancing legislative changes to support energy efficiency including establishing appliance efficiency standards, strengthening building energy codes, requiring annual building energy benchmarking, disclosing energy efficiency in home sales, and expanding the ability of state facilities to utilize performance contracting.

All these requirements add to the regulatory burden for doing business in New York and it is not clear how much value for carbon reduction they will get.

Directing the Public Service Commission to ensure that New York’s electric and gas utilities achieve more in scale, innovation, and cost effectiveness to achieve the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target, especially through their energy efficiency activities and clean heating and cooling programs, and that a substantial portion of new energy efficiency activity benefits low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

All these efforts disguise costs. The Public Service Commission will require that these programs be included in rate case submittals and the costs will be passed on to the customers. There is no unaffiliated voice for keeping consumer costs low vis-à-vis climate goals and myriad special interests involved in rate cases to fund these programs. Moreover the utilities have no reason to question these costs because it is a pass through.

Directing State agencies to ensure that their facilities lead by example through energy master planning, net zero carbon construction, LED retrofits, annual benchmarking, and by meeting their electricity needs through clean and renewable sources of energy, specifically including the exploration of clean energy solutions at State Parks and at State facilities within the Adirondack Park to dramatically reduce emissions, create jobs, and increase resiliency.

We will have to wait to see what this means.

Developing a Net Zero Roadmap to articulate policies and programs that will enable longer-term market transformation to a statewide carbon neutral building stock.

We will have to wait to see what this means.

Together, these bold actions will establish New York as a global leader on environmentally sustainable buildings while catalyzing major economic development opportunities and helping to create good jobs.

It is not clear to me what benefits accrue to the citizens if New York is a global leader on environmentally sustainable buildings.

[1] Wallethub reports that “Data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Climatic Data Center, the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.”

New York Green Deal: Strategies to Decarbonize Agency Investment Funds

This is one of a series of posts on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Green New Deal. As part of his 2019 Justice Agenda he included a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy”.

Not surprisingly there are no details other than the announcement, no mention of potential costs, and no explanation how all this will affect any of the many impacts that he claims are caused by climate change. There is a proposal to provide the plan to make New York carbon neutral and I will blog on those plans as they become available. In the meantime this post discusses the language used to describe the mandate for New York agencies and authorities to study strategies to decarbonize their investment funds and invest in clean energy as part of the New York Green New Deal.

In the following sections I list the text from the announcement and my indented and italicized comments follow.

Direct State Agencies and Authorities to Pursue Strategies to Decarbonize their Investment Funds and Ramp Up Investment in Clean Energy

In 2018, Governor Cuomo called on the New York Common Fund, which manages over $200 billion in retirement assets for more than one million New Yorkers, to adopt a serious and responsible plan for decarbonizing its portfolio. Over the past year, the Governor has worked with the Office of the Comptroller to establish an advisory panel of experts to develop a decarbonization roadmap and guide the Common Fund toward investment opportunities that combat climate change.

I am guessing but I think that the plan to decarbonize the portfolio of the State agencies is publicly intended to publicize and signal the reality of climate change and change the economics of the fossil energy industry. It seems to me that rather than publicizing the issue for the unaware people in New York it is really intended to cater to the environmental activists who want to signal the virtue of New York State. The economics of the fossil industry will unlikely be affected: “Sin stocks”, such as tobacco shares, get a small discount because many investors will not touch them. But the main effect of this is that those who buy the stocks earn better returns. There is plenty of low-cost, environmentally insensitive capital available for energy companies that need it.”

 I am not going to bother doing a detailed comparison of the long-term financial viability of investment opportunities that combat climate change relative to the fossil assets but it seems to me that I have heard about more renewable company failures than fossil company failures. Given that renewables appear to be dependent upon subsidies suggests to me that their long term investment prospects are not that good. Investing in those stocks is yet another subsidy.

As part of the Green New Deal, Governor Cuomo is taking the next step, by directing State authorities, public benefit corporations, and the State Insurance Fund, which collectively hold approximately $40 billion in investments, to commence a process to review and evaluate the feasibility and appropriateness of divesting from fossil fuels. To scale up investment in renewable energy, green infrastructure, and climate solutions, agencies and authorities will also work to educate plan administrators and investment consultants regarding investment opportunities in the clean energy sector.

I think the most important investment strategy for the $240 billion dollars in New York funds should be economic rather than a signaling virtue. The rationale for this mandate to divest is clear: divestment is not an investment strategy, or a way of putting direct economic pressure on energy companies. It is a political statement.

NY Green Deal: Create a Carbon-to-Value Innovation Agenda

This is one of a series of posts on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Green New Deal. As part of his 2019 Justice Agenda he included a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy”.

Not surprisingly there are no details other than the announcement, no mention of potential costs, and no explanation how all this will affect any of the many impacts that he claims are caused by climate change. There is a proposal to provide the plan to make New York carbon neutral and I will blog on those plans as they become available. In the meantime this post discusses the language used to describe the plan to create a carbon-to-value innovation agenda as part of the New York Green New Deal.

In the following sections I list the text from the announcement and my indented and italicized comments follow.

Create a Carbon-to-Value Innovation Agenda and Establish the CarbonWorks Foundry

Avoiding the worst consequences of climate change will require not only reductions in emissions using existing technologies, but also innovation, particularly with respect to withdrawing CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere. Innovative new technologies are emerging in response to this challenge that can capture CO2 from the atmosphere and either permanently sequester the carbon underground or transform it into valuable fuel or products, known as carbon-to-value. While many of these technologies are still in their infancy, they show promise in the collective fight to address climate change.

The concept is to turn carbon dioxide into fuel and wasteful chemicals. While I am not a chemical engineer the idea that the waste products can be turned into a fuel without a whole lot of energy going back into the system seems a bit far-fetched. On the other hand the concept of using CO2 instead of sequestering it underground is appealing.

Accordingly, Governor Cuomo is announcing that in 2019, New York State, with the help of experts, environmental groups, academic institutions, and other stakeholders will create a Carbon-to-Value Innovation Agenda as a blueprint for the future of carbon-to-value technology as well as carbon capture, utilization and storage in New York. NYSERDA will provide $15 million to support multiple efforts to further New York’s Carbon-to-Value Innovation Agenda. This will include NYSERDA and SUNY working with academic institutions, experts, and philanthropic partners to establish the CarbonWorks Foundry, a new incubator and accelerator devoted to carbon-to-value technology development with a focus on carbon harvesting. Finally, NYSERDA will engage other State agencies to create a framework for a low-carbon procurement standard, which can create a market for low-carbon cement and concrete, building materials, and other valuable low-emissions products.

For these types of blueprints I would be more supportive if they included provisions to make sure that the Foundry would terminate if certain criteria are not met. If it is promising great but if it is not then accept that we found out that the concept while promising in theory was not practical. If any of these ideas go forward they should include metrics and regular reporting.

NY Green Deal: Increase Carbon Sequestration

This is one of a series of posts on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Green New Deal. As part of his 2019 Justice Agenda he included a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy”.

Not surprisingly there are no details other than the announcement, no mention of potential costs, and no explanation how all this will affect any of the many impacts that he claims are caused by climate change. There is a proposal to provide the plan to make New York carbon neutral and I will blog on those plans as they become available. In the meantime this post discusses the language used to describe the plan to increase carbon sequestration and meet a land challenge as part of the New York Green New Deal.

In the following sections I list the text from the announcement with my indented and italicized comments.

Increase Carbon Sequestration and Meet the U.S. Climate Alliance Natural and Working Lands Challenge

In 2015, Governor Cuomo launched the Climate Resilient Farming Program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and to increase resiliency of New York State farms impacted by climate change. Just last year, New York accepted the U.S. Climate Alliance’s Natural and Working Lands challenge, ensuring that land stewardship and land sequestration efforts join energy reduction and adaptation activities as part of our collective climate solutions.

According to the New York Soil & Water Conservation Committee website “The goal of the Climate Resilient Farming Program is to reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change (mitigation) and to increase the resiliency of New York State farms in the face of a changing climate (adaptation).” The plan is to mitigate and adapt.

Estimates of annual greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture (apart from agricultural energy use, which is classified differently) in New York State range from 5.3 to 5.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Manure management is responsible for roughly 15% of the emissions; emissions from soils are slightly under a third of the total. This represents a major opportunity to reduce emissions.

 While New York State is projected to increase precipitation overall, it is expected to come in short, extreme precipitation events in between mild droughts. This represents a major risk to farms, particularly those in low-lying or flood prone areas. Even very local downpours and cloud bursts can cause substantial damage to farms.

On the face of it this program is innocuous but is it effective? According to the most recent press release I could find: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced nearly $2.2 million will be awarded to 34 farms across the state through the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program. Launched by the Governor in 2015, the program helps farms reduce their operational impact on the environment and better prepare for and recover after extreme weather events. Through three rounds of funding to date, the state has provided $5.1 million to 40 total projects, assisting nearly 70 farms. I have included a description of the awards made for 2018 at the end of the post. My biggest problem is that the 34 farms received money from the state for projects that in some cases seem like business as usual practices. Unless a program can provide this kind of support to every farm in the state then where are we going with this? If my neighbor gets money to do a project why in the world would I do it, however appropriate for the environment, unless I get money too?

To meet our Natural and Working Lands commitment, Governor Cuomo will establish new research partnerships to incorporate forest and agricultural carbon into New York’s greenhouse gas inventory and climate strategy and to establish a carbon sequestration goal for our natural and working lands. To help achieve this goal, Governor Cuomo proposes doubling the State’s investment in the Climate Resilient Farming program and creating new forestry grant programs—enhancing the Healthy Soils NY program and enabling farmers, forest owners, and communities to achieve the economic and environmental co-benefits of sound management practices.

I think the concept that increasing the carbon content of the soil is a no regrets solution. The basic concept is that building healthy soil sequesters carbon dioxide. My point is that healthy soil is good for the planet whatever the effect of CO2 on climate. As mentioned above, however, I think the New York program has to take the big picture approach how to implement their plan across all the farms and forests rather than awarding grants to the politically connected.

Awarded Projects Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program April 27, 2018

  • Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $74,494 to assist one farm with the implementation of a 45-acre prescribed grazing and 5.7-acre riparian buffer system that will increase soil health and reduce farm based greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Herkimer County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $432,659 to work with a dairy farm to install a manure storage cover and flare. The system will dramatically reduce methane emissions from the farm’s manure storage, mitigate water quality concerns – especially during major precipitation events, and promote energy savings.
  • Schoharie County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $10,256 to work with one vegetable farm to implement cover crops using no-till planting methods. This project will plant 14 acres of diverse species cover crops to improve carbon sequestration and improve resiliency to the farm during periods of flood and drought.
  • Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $149,085 to work with one dairy farm to install a riparian buffer system and an irrigation water management system. The systems will mitigate nutrient and sediment runoff and allow the farm to store and convey water as needed in preparation for any drought situations.
  • Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $119,907 to work with four farms to implement cover crops to improve the carbon sequestration potential in the soils and improve resiliency to the farm during periods of flood and drought.
  • Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $281,686 to work with a diverse livestock farm to install a manure storage cover and flare to dramatically reduce methane emissions from the farm’s manure storage, mitigate water quality concerns – especially during major precipitation events, and promote energy savings.
  • Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $156,790 to work with one dairy farm to expand a clean water storage reservoir to an irrigation reservoir that will provide additional capacity for drought and flood periods and install a center pivot irrigation system.
  • Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $128,600 to work with one farm to implement a water and sediment control basin system that will prevent erosion and protect the Village of Chittenango from an increased flooding potential due to runoff from the farm.
  • Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $40,760 to work with one farm to implement a 78-acre prescribed grazing system that will increase soil health, improve soil carbon sequestration by promoting plant growth throughout the year, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $180,856 to work with one farm to implement a 1.05-acre wetland that will allow for greater storage of stormwater. The project will help to reduce the flood volume downstream and ultimately reduce sedimentation into Skaneateles Lake.
  • Essex County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $103,500 to work with one farm to install riparian buffers systems and ponds for stormwater capture and irrigation. The systems will sequester carbon dioxide emissions and reduce farm runoff to the Boquet River and Lake Champlain.
  • Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $43,696 to work with one farm to install a riparian buffer system and livestock access control. The systems will reduce streambank erosion and sedimentation, provide a reliable water source for grazing animals, and improve the capability of the farm to withstand extreme weather conditions.
  • Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $85,024 to work with one farm to implement diverse species cover crops that will improve soil quality, reduce erosion during extreme weather events, and increase soil organic matter.
  • Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $82,268 to work with five farms to implement cover crops. These projects will improve the carbon sequestration potential in the soils and improve resiliency to the farm during periods of flood and drought.
  •  Southern Tier
  • Chenango County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $77,255 to work with six farms to implement cover crops. Cover crops are planted to improve soil quality, reduce erosion, and to increase soil organic matter to improve resiliency to the farm during periods of flood and drought and decrease the impacts of flooding downstream.
  • Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $205,000 to work with seven farms that include dairy, crop, and beef/sheep farms, in three priority watersheds, to implement cover crops. This project will allow for cover crops throughout nearly the entire growing season, which will conserve soil, improve water holding capacity to help mitigate impacts of extreme storm events, and help to protect several public drinking water sources.

NY Green Deal: Investments in the Clean Tech Economy

This is one of a series of posts on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Green New Deal. As part of his 2019 Justice Agenda he included a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy”.

Not surprisingly there are no details other than the announcement, no mention of potential costs, and no explanation how all this will affect any of the many impacts that he claims are caused by climate change. There is a proposal to provide the plan to make New York carbon neutral and I will blog on those plans as they become available. In the meantime this post discusses the language used to describe the multi-billion dollar price tag of the New York Green New Deal.

In the following sections I list the text from the announcement and my indented and italicized comments follow.

Demonstrating New York’s real-time commitment to implementing the most ambitious clean energy agenda in the United States, Governor Cuomo is also announcing $1.5 billion in competitive awards to support 20 large-scale solar, wind, and energy storage projects across upstate New York. These projects will drive a total of $4 billion in direct investment in New York’s growing clean energy economy, as well as add over 1,650 megawatts of capacity and generate over 3,800,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy annually – enough to power nearly 550,000 homes and create over 2,600 short-term and long-term jobs. Once all permitting and local requirements are met, several projects are expected to break ground as early as August 2019 and all projects are expected to be operational by 2022. The projects will reduce carbon emissions by more than 2 million metric tons, equivalent to taking nearly 437,000 cars off the road. Combined with the renewable energy projects previously announced under the Clean Energy Standard, New York has now awarded more than $2.9 billion to 46 projects, accelerating New York’s progress and commitment to Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) described the 20 large-scale projects in a press release. Table 1 green new deal clean energy project investments lists the projects and provides some details. There are 1,040 MW of solar at 16 sites and 613.7 MW of wind at 4 sites with a total of 45 MW of energy storage included at three facilities.

New York State has extensive electric facility siting requirements for any project of 25 MW or greater. Article Ten is supposed to provide a common framework for siting generation facilities in a streamlined permitting process. There are specific requirements for environmental and public health analyses. However, this process is time consuming and costly. While there are timing requirements for agency responses, nonetheless in my opinion it is practically impossible to meet all the requirements in less than five years. Of the 1654 MW in the announced projects, there is one small 4.99 MW project and eight 19.99 MW capacity projects (159.92 MW total) that are exempt from the Article Ten requirements. Of the remaining 11 projects, there are four projects totaling 462.69 MW that have not submitted anything to the Article Ten Siting Board, four projects totaling 499 MW that have completed the first step by submitting Public Involvement Programs, two projects totaling 237.5 MW have completed the second step by submitting their preliminary scoping plans and one 290 MW project has reached the third step submitting their application.

 The competitive awards total $1.5 billion and are supposed to provide more than 2 million tons of carbon reductions. Assuming that they really meant carbon dioxide for the 2 million tons that means 750 dollars per ton reduction cost. In 2015 NYS electric sector CO2 emissions were 32 million tons. If the New York Green New Deal were to rely on the NYSERDA competitive award process for those reductions the State is looking at a staggering cost of $24 billion.

NY Green Deal: Justice, Transition and Clean Energy Jobs

This is one of a series of posts on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Green New Deal. As part of his 2019 Justice Agenda he included a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy”.

Not surprisingly there are no details other than the announcement, no mention of potential costs, and no explanation how all this will affect any of the many impacts that he claims are caused by climate change. There is a proposal to provide the plan to make New York carbon neutral and I will blog on those plans as they become available. In the meantime this post discusses the language used to describe the plan to deliver climate justice, reduce impacts of the transition, and develop a clean tech workforce as part of the New York Green New Deal.

I have combined three proposals in this post because they are all out of my energy and environmental analysis background. Bluntly, all three seem to be political favors incorporated to curry favor from three groups to support the Green New Deal. None of them will have any impact on emissions reductions or energy transition. In the following sections I list the text from the announcement and my indented and italicized comments follow.

Proposal. Deliver Climate Justice for Underserved Communities

In 2016, the Governor introduced an ambitious environmental justice framework, establishing a statewide commitment to addressing the historic disparate environmental burdens suffered by communities of color and low-income communities. In 2017, he introduced an Environmental Justice and Just Transition Working Group to ensure that environmental justice and a just transition of New York’s workforce are an integral part of New York’s clean energy and climate agenda. In the past 3 years, New York State has invested more than $16 million through the Environmental Protection Fund in environmental justice initiatives. New York also currently has over 151,000 individuals employed by clean energy industries throughout the state and has committed $70 million in workforce training in the clean energy economy. As part of the Green New Deal, Governor Cuomo will build upon these important foundations for making environmental justice and just transition central to moving to a carbon neutral economy.

On June 2, 2017 Cuomo established an environmental justice & just transition working group to help historically underserved communities prepare for a clean energy future and adapt to climate change. The announcement said the working group “will focus, in part, on developing policies and programs to ensure a ‘just transition’ to a green and clean energy future.” The announcement included a list of members and said that it would “advise the administration on the integration of environmental justice and just transition principles into all agency policies, and to shape environmental justice programs identified in State of the State and inform what work products would assist in this effort. The first Working Group session will convene in June.” However, I have been unable to find any references to this group since then.

 The announcement notes New York State has invested more than $16 million through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) for environmental justice initiatives. A Financial History of the fund notes that:

This fund is supposed to provide a source of funding for capital projects that protect the environment and enhance communities. EPF appropriations have totaled $3.4 billion from its creation in 1993 through the State’s last complete fiscal year, 2016-17. Of this, some $2.6 billion had been spent on environmental protection, parks and other related programs as of March 31, 2017. Over the life of the Fund, more than $953 million in EPF resources has been diverted to the General Fund for budget relief. While some of this was replaced with borrowed funds, over half, or $507.2 million, has not been replenished.

While that report also notes that EPF resources for environmental justice grants help residents in areas suffering from systemic neglect and legacy pollution to rebuild healthier communities it also notes that DEC does not provide annual, comprehensive assessments of the status and needs supported by the EPF. In light of the Comptroller’s report I could not check how the money was spent.

 The Green New Deal will help historically underserved communities prepare for a clean energy future and adapt to climate change by codifying the Environmental Justice and Just Transition Working Group into law and incorporating it into the planning process for the Green New Deal’s transition. To increase the effect of funds and initiatives that target energy affordability, the Governor is directing the State’s low-income energy task force to identify reforms to achieve greater impact of the public energy funds expended each year. The Governor is also directing each of the State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils to develop an environmental justice strategy for their region.

Presumably once the Environmental Justice and Just Transition Working Group is codified into law they will actually meet regularly. New York State has a terrible record spending climate reduction funds where they are supposed to be spent rather than on politically expedient pork but we will see if this program is different.

New York State currently directs more than $700 million in ratepayer and federal funds each year to combat energy poverty and increase access to clean energy solutions for the 2.3 million low-income households in the state. However, current programs only reach 1.4 million households each year with bill assistance programs, and less than 20,000 households each year with clean energy measures.

As part of the Green New Deal, Governor Cuomo will address energy poverty in New York State by directing the low-income energy task force, comprised of NYSERDA, DPS, OTDA, and HCR, to develop a roadmap and unified strategy to increase the impact of funds and initiatives that target energy affordability. Specifically, the Governor is directing the task force to assess policy, programmatic, and administrative reforms necessary to achieve greater impact of public funds expended each year.

In my opinion the primary goal of the task force should be to keep electric energy affordable. I am encouraged that the announcement recognizes the importance of energy poverty. However, I will only be satisfied when the State establishes an energy poverty metric and tracks it throughout the transition.

 Proposal. Create a Fund to Help Communities Impacted by the Transition Dirty Power

Governor Cuomo is introducing legislation to provide funding to help communities that are directly affected by the transition away from conventional energy industries and toward the new clean energy economy. Specifically, this funding will protect communities impacted by the retirement of conventional power generation facilities. The Governor is also calling upon the Environmental and Just Transition Working Group to contribute to and advise on the development of a Just Transition Roadmap for the Green New Deal.

In my opinion this is an example of the political pandering of the Green New deal. If New York does implement this plan all the municipalities that have depended on a fossil-fired power plant for jobs and taxes for many years will be scrambling to find a replacement industry. One of the subsidies commonly provided to renewable facilities is a pilot (or payment in lieu of taxes) agreement. It would be interesting to determine if the tax benefits of the Green New deal will replace the taxes generated by the legacy fossil plants.

Proposal. Develop Clean Tech Workforce and Protect Labor Rights

To ensure creation of high-quality clean energy jobs, large-scale renewable energy projects supported by the Green New Deal will continue to require prevailing wage, and the State’s offshore wind projects will be supported by a requirement for a Project Labor Agreement. To prepare New York’s workforce for the transition, New York State will take new steps to support workforce development, including establishing a New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development, as well as investing in an offshore wind training center that will provide New Yorkers with the skills and safety training required to construct this clean energy technology in New York.

In my opinion this is another example of the political pandering of the Green New Deal. This has all the signs of a progressive politician appealing to his political base. How this will reduce emissions and save the planet from global warming is unclear.