NY Governor Pushes Goal of 100 Percent Renewable Electric Power by 2040

Published February 13, 2019

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a goal that 100 percent of the electricity used in the state come from renewable power sources by 2040.

Cuomo’s 100 percent renewable power goal is part of what he called New York’s Green New Deal, announced in his 2019 State of the State Address. Cuomo said he will include it as part of the state budget he will present to the legislature for approval.

“Let us set the goal, 100 percent clean power by 2040, highest in the United States of America, [and] a climate action council to eliminate the state’s carbon footprint,” Cuomo said in his speech on January 19.

‘Path to Carbon Neutrality’

In a statement from the governor’s office accompanying his speech, Cuomo, a Democrat, took a swipe at President Donald Trump for rolling back Obama-era climate regulations.

“Amidst the Trump administration’s assault on the environment and in order to continue New York’s progress in the fight against climate change, Governor Cuomo is announcing New York’s Green New Deal, a nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on the path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy,” Cuomo’s statement read.

Key components of Cuomo’s Green New Deal include increasing the state’s “Clean Energy Standard” from 50 percent to 70 percent renewable sources by 2030; increasing New York’s goal for the amount of electricity it gets from offshore wind installations from 2,400 megawatts (MW) by 2030 to 9,000 MW by 2035; doubling the amount of power that utilities are required to deliver from distributed solar generation sources, from the current target of 3,000 MW by 2023 to 6,000 MW by 2024; and having a minimum of 3,000 MW of energy storage in operation by 2030.

Cuomo’s previous green energy initiatives have already committed $1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money to help finance 20 large-scale wind, solar, and energy storage projects across upstate New York.

Cuomo’s Green New Deal would leapfrog New York past Hawaii’s and California’s renewable energy mandates. Hawaii mandated all electricity come from renewable sources by 2045, in 2015. In 2018, then-governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order calling for California to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

‘Economic Devastation,’ Population Loss

New York’s existing energy policies restricting the use of fossil fuels are already hurting the state, says Karen Moreau, executive director of the Petroleum Council of New York. New York was one of only nine states to lose population in 2018, with the state’s population declining by 48,510 as residents migrated to states with lower taxes and less-expensive energy, Moreau says.

“The chickens are coming home to roost in New York as a result of similar failed policies to stop natural gas drilling and pipelines,” said Moreau. “The economic devastation in upstate New York apparently fell on deaf ears when Cuomo banned fracking.

“Now the effects of the Cuomo pipeline blockade are hitting one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, Westchester, with Con Ed announcing a moratorium on all new natural-gas hook-ups,” Moreau said. “Natural gas is the fuel of choice, but people are being told they can no longer get it. As a result, New York is losing of billions of dollars in new housing construction and commercial development.”

Cuomo’s 100 percent renewable energy plan will worsen the state’s economic problems, Moreau says.

“The Green New Deal will mean more of the same: no choice and energy poverty,” said Moreau. “More people will quietly leave New York, and the outmigration will include rich and poor alike.”

‘Buying a Blackout’

Cuomo’s plan does not require enough battery backup to support his green energy goals, says David Wojick, a senior analyst at the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

“New York presently generates most of its power using natural gas,” said Wojick. “In order to switch from gas-generating power to wind and solar power, New York will need a stupendous amount of battery storage, but Cuomo’s plan does not require enough be built because it is prohibitively expensive. As a result, New York is buying a blackout.”

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and a senior policy analyst with CFACT.