Renewables to get boost, GHG emissions to get cut
New York Gov Andrew Cuomo, D, Friday announced an ambitious acceleration of energy efficiency in New York, including a comprehensive plan to achieve a new target for significant GHG emission reductions, decrease consumer energy costs and create job opportunities. The news was met with support from multiple environmental and energy interests in various separate announcements, also released Friday.
The initiative will support the Clean Energy Standard mandate to generate 50% of the state's electricity through renewable energy sources by 2030 and build on New York's national leadership on clean energy and climate change, the governor said. Meeting the new energy efficiency target will deliver nearly a third of the GHG emissions reductions needed to meet the state's climate goal of 40% reduction by 2030, he added.
The announcement was part of Cuomo's State of the State proposal to develop a milestone Earth Day energy efficiency target and comprehensive strategy, he added.
QUOTABLE: Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way for New Yorkers to lower utility bills, curb harmful emissions, and battle climate change. As the federal government abdicates its responsibility to safeguard our environment, we must continue our bold action to reduce emissions and protect all New Yorkers, today and in the future, from the devastating effects of climate change. – New York Gov Andrew Cuomo in prepared remarks
"We're aggressively working to make New York more energy efficient with unprecedented goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change," said Lieutenant Gov Kathy Hochul in prepared remarks. "The strategies to make our state cleaner and greener will result in high-tech jobs for New Yorkers with investments in workforce development.
"The focus on energy efficiency will not only enhance the environment and create new jobs, it will also lower energy costs for residents and boost the energy economy."
Statewide, New Yorkers pay about $35 billion/year for electricity and heating fuels, and buildings are responsible for 59% of statewide GHG emissions. The new 2025 energy efficiency target will cut emissions and energy costs by incentivizing building developers, commercial and institutional building owners, and residential households to pursue building improvements to reduce energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs (British thermal units) below forecasted energy use in 2025, the equivalent to energy consumed by 1.8 million New York homes, Cuomo said.
Meeting the target will accelerate achievement of energy efficiency in the next seven years by more than 40% over the current path. The new energy efficiency target will not only save substantial heating fuels but will set the state on a path to achieve annual electric efficiency savings of 3% of IOU sales in 2025.
The initiative will support the growth of cost-effective private sector energy efficiency businesses and further Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) opportunities for third-parties to partner directly with utilities. These strategies will deliver benefits to consumers through new building retrofits, efficient appliances, and innovative technologies like heat pumps, Cuomo said.
New York's IOUs will be called on to achieve significantly more in both scale and innovation through their energy efficiency activities. By accelerating innovation to deliver energy efficiency solutions, New York will cut emissions by cost-effectively reducing electricity and building fuel demand across the state.
Energy efficiency is a significant part of the state's clean energy economy, with over 110,000 New Yorkers employed in energy efficiency-related jobs, he added. NYSER&DA will commit another $36.5 million to train over 19,500 New Yorkers for clean energy jobs to support this rapidly growing industry.
State leaders add thoughts
"Under Gov Cuomo's leadership, New York is taking tremendous strides to reduce the costs of clean energy, support private sector investment, grow the clean energy economy across the state, and create opportunities for new good jobs," said New York State Chairman of Energy & Finance Richard Kauffman in prepared remarks. "All New Yorkers will benefit as the market delivers energy efficiency more cost-effectively, creating a healthier and safer environment in the process."
"Today's efficiency target solidifies New York's leadership position in the global fight against climate change and memorializes Gov Cuomo's commitment to energy efficiency as a cornerstone of his clean energy agenda," said NYSERDA CEO Alicia Barton in prepared remarks. "This bold policy leadership coupled with NYSERDA's workforce training investments will inject greater momentum into the state's fast-growing clean energy sector, which already employs over 146,000 workers today and is serving as an engine for economic growth in every region of our state."
"New York is committed to transitioning to clean energy and we will ensure all customers – particularly those who are often left out of market transitions – see the benefits," said PSC Chair John Rhodes in prepared remarks. "The ambitious energy efficiency target announced by Gov Cuomo today helps ensure we meet our clean energy and climate objectives as intelligently and effectively as possible."
NRDC hails target
"This is what climate leadership looks like," said Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) President Rhea Suh in prepared remarks included in the governor's press release. "Gov Cuomo's plan catapults New York into the forefront of energy efficiency – the cheapest, cleanest, and quickest way to avoid the power plant pollution causing climate change and threatening our health.
"This dramatic increase in energy savings will lower utility bills for all New Yorkers, create thousands of new jobs, and clean our air. At a time when national climate leadership is sadly lacking, Gov Cuomo is an inspiring example of how states can step up and lead in the greatest fight of our lives.
"We have much more to do, but this landmark decision marks a key turning point. By establishing an ambitious and nation-leading energy-saving target, the governor has shown strong environmental leadership yet again," she added.
ACE, EDF chime in
"This new commitment to energy efficiency is excellent news for an industry that already employs 110,000 New Yorkers, and now will employ more," said Alliance for Clean Energy New York Executive Director Anne Reynolds in prepared remarks, also part of the Cuomo statement. "Efficiency is extremely valuable to the environment, to utility customers, and to a clean and resilient grid.
"Our industry looks forward to capturing that value and to installing energy efficiency measures in homes and businesses all across New York. We look forward to working with the utilities, the state, and all stakeholders to ensure Gov Cuomo's exciting goals yield real and timely results."
"On top of cutting costs and creating healthier communities, energy efficiency will play a valuable role in helping New York meet its ambitious climate goals," said Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) New York Director of Clean Energy Rory Christian in prepared remarks. "Today's announcement sends a clear signal to the market that the state is committed to energy efficiency, which will go hand in hand with strengthening grid modernization and renewable energy efforts and sends a clear signal to the market that New York's commitment to act on climate is here to stay."
Targeting lower-income folks
As part of the energy efficiency target and recognizing the critical importance to include the state's most vulnerable residents, Gov Cuomo directed the PSC to ensure a substantial portion of the new energy efficiency activity be directly targeted to programs for low to moderate income New Yorkers, which will complement the state's existing progressive energy options for these New Yorkers, Cuomo said. To implement this vision, individuals and organizations representing low to moderate income and environmental justice communities will be engaged and consulted to design impactful solutions, including the Governor's Environmental Justice and Just Transition Work Group.
The state will build on the initiatives underway in the CEF by working with stakeholders and others to advance innovative net zero energy retrofit prototypes for affordable housing, facilitating the adoption of energy efficiency improvements under Medicaid as a component of healthy homes interventions, and advancing the market for zero-energy modular homes, he added.
State facilities included
The strategy for achieving the new energy efficiency target requires the state to identify opportunities by which state facilities can lead by example. NYSERDA and the Dept of Public Service are proposing innovative strategies and tools to achieve the target including energy benchmarking to measure progress, accelerated building codes with implementation support from the Clean Energy Fund, and investment in heat pumps to deliver low carbon solutions for heating and cooling, Cuomo said.
Advancing clean energy technologies that support beneficial electrification in heating, cooling, and hot water also helps improve the efficiency of the electric grid to the benefit of all customers, he added. NYSERDA and DPS have engaged with over 60 public and private sector stakeholder organizations in developing a strategy for this initiative.
DPS and NYSERDA plan to submit a whitepaper into the PSC energy efficiency proceeding to determine the mix of programs, policies, and regulations needed to achieve the 2025 target while reducing consumer costs, Cuomo said. The proceeding will assess the viability of various program and policy options to dramatically increase energy efficiency and advance an all-fuels approach to achieve energy savings that most benefit New Yorkers, he added.
AEE issues statement
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) issued a statement Friday in reaction to the news, saying it represents a big commitment to money-saving energy efficiency.
"It is inspiring to see New York take on energy efficiency with the same level of ambition the state has shown on renewable energy and utility transformation," said AEE Senior VP Lisa Frantzis in prepared remarks. "The result will be savings for customers and jobs for New Yorkers making homes and businesses more energy efficient."
Lime Energy lauds move
"Lime Energy is ready to commit more resources to achieving New York's new 2025 energy efficiency target, and we are prepared to double down on our contribution to economic growth and job creation across the state," said Lime Energy CEO Adam Procell in prepared remarks. "Over the last eight years we have provided energy efficiency upgrades to more than 40,000 New York businesses, and we look forward to continuing our success in delivering the cheapest, cleanest and most abundantly available energy resource.
"We applaud Gov Cuomo and his policy team for taking these necessary actions so New York can reclaim its leadership position among the states advancing common-sense energy efficiency policy, and we look forward to the details on how they plan on accomplishing this goal."
Lime Energy is a national provider of energy efficiency products and services to utilities and their commercial customers, the firm said.
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