Emilio Petroccione, Esq., NYSEC Regulatory Counsel
The N.Y. State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently released its Biennial update to the State Energy Plan, (SEP). The state plan is driven by the objectives outlined in the 2015 Reforming the Energy Vision, (REV) plan put forward by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The overriding goal of the REV is that, by 2030, its initiatives will "create a clean, resilient, and more affordable energy system by increasing private sector investment in clean energy solutions, spurring technology innovation, driving down technology costs, integrating more clean, distributed resources onto the grid, and bolstering the resiliency of the energy system while improving consumer choice and affordability."
Reducing greenhouse gases and the state's overall carbon footprint are tied to the following REV 2030 initiatives:
- A 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels;
- A goal of 50% renewables...(primarily wind and solar)...in electricity generation and consumption; and
- An increase in statewide energy efficiency on the order of 600 trillion British thermal units (Btu).
As Governor Cuomo noted upon the issuance of the 2015 SEP, "climate change is an issue of society's sustainability. To deny that climate change is real is to defy reason...In the case of climate change, denial is not a survival strategy."
The 2015 "baseline" by which improvements and goal achievement can be measured included the following:
"As of 2015, New York State ranked eighth nationally in energy consumption. New York State uses the lowest amount of energy per person and has the lowest energy consumption per unit of gross state product in the U.S. The transportation sector is the largest end-user, requiring 39.3 percent of energy used, followed by residential (29.4 percent), commercial (23.9 percent), and industrial (7.4 percent). More than 70 percent of New York's energy comes from fossil fuels such as natural gas (37.5 percent), and petroleum (33.2 percent) used to heat homes, move vehicles, and power the electric grid. Nearly two-thirds of the energy used in New York State is lost during conversion from the primary energy source to a useful form such as space heat or powering of a mechanical process. The two largest energy losses are waste heat from electricity generation, transmission, and distribution, and the heat produced by combustion engines that drive the cars, buses, trains, planes and boats in the transportation sector."
Notable achievements in various energy-related sectors since 2015 are shown below:
- Implemented the Clean Energy Standard, which requires 50 percent of the electricity consumption in the state to be generated by renewable resources by 2030.
- Grew solar capacity in the state nearly 800 percent from 2011 to 2016 through the NY-Sun program.
- Approved the first offshore wind farm in New York.
||Buildings and Energy Efficiency
- Launched the 10-year, $5 billion Clean Energy Fund in January 2016.The Fund's four portfolios--Market Development, Innovation and Research, NY Green Bank, and NY-Sun--will collectively work toward meeting the state's ambitious energy, environmental, and economic goals.
- Saved a total of $131 million in energy costs for New York State agencies through the BuildSmart NY initiative.
- Updated New York's building codes to enable energy savings of up to 30 percent for new residential construction and up to 7 percent for new commercial construction over the prior building code.
||Clean Energy Financing
- Received more than $2.1 billion in requests for NY Green Bank capital through September 2017, demonstrating an interest and need for clean energy financing.
- Invested $440.9 million of NY Green Bank capital--while mobilizing $3 of private sector funding for each dollar invested--to support financing for 28 clean energy projects through September 2017.
- Reached the point of self-sufficiency, with revenues exceeding operating expenses, in March 2017, a full year earlier than projected.
||Sustainable and Resilient Communities
- Enrolled 241 communities representing a population of 4.7 million in New York's Clean Energy Communities program. Additionally, 211 municipalities, representing one-third of the state's population, have committed to act on climate change by becoming registered Climate Smart Communities.
- Awarded funds to support 83 feasibility studies and 11 design and engineering plans through New York's community microgrid competition NY Prize, advancing local independent and resilient grid systems.
- Signed up more than 80 of the state's 250 higher education institutions to participate in the REV Campus Challenge and advance sustainability on their campus and their surrounding communities.
||Energy Infrastructure Modernization
- Completed the Marcy South Series Compensation smart grid project, which is providing an additional 440 megawatts of capacity without requiring new transmission lines or new rights-of-way.
- Decreased the known inventory of leak-prone pipe by 10.6 percent between 2015 and 2016, and by 37 percent since 2011.
- Approved utility Distributed System Implementation Plans, detailing investments that will support each utility's role as a new distributed system platform provider; Distributed System Implementation Plans also share system data, highlight areas of the grid that would be well served by distributed energy resources, and provide load and distributed energy resource forecasts.
- 25,000 New Yorkers own an electric vehicle; only 500 owned an electric vehicle when Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took office.
- Launched a $55 million electric vehicle rebate program to support 40,000 additional electric vehicle purchases.
- Eliminated nearly 4 million single occupancy vehicle trips, 200 million vehicle miles traveled, and 16,500 tons of CO2 emissions through the 511NY Rideshare program.
||Innovation and R&D
- Made a commitment to invest $728 million over 10 years in innovation and research and development through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Clean Energy Fund.
- Funded innovative clean energy businesses through 76West, the Southern Tier clean energy competition. Top prize winners are: Micatu, for its optical sensor that gives highly precise voltage readings so utilities can reduce energy use, and Skyven Technologies, for its solar thermal technology designed for cooler climates and low heat processes like pasteurization.
- Began implementing 15 Reforming the Energy Vision Demonstration Projects, ranging from online marketplaces that connect customers with energy services and products to new business models for energy storage technologies.