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New York falls behind on meeting its renewable energy target

A new report finds the state has fallen behind on meeting a key renewable energy target.
Vaughn Golden / WSKG News
A new report finds the state is unlikely to meet a key renewable energy target.

New York is expected to ramp up renewable energy production in the coming years, but it’s unlikely to meet a key climate target, according to an official review released last week.

The state’s climate law, passed in 2019, mandates that New York obtain 70% of its electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2030, which would significantly help curb the state’s climate-warming emissions.

However, New York will likely have generated only enough renewable energy to meet around 45% of its electricity needs by the end of the decade, falling far short of its commitment, according to the review by the Department of Public Service and the state energy authority.

The biennial review explains the gap is partially due to an increased demand for electricity as more cars and appliances no longer run off gas, as well as the cancellations of some offshore wind and other large-scale renewable projects. That reflects challenges the renewable energy industry has faced nationwide in recent years, amid inflation and supply chain difficulties.

The report outlines a path to rapidly increase renewable energy generation to bring the state back on track, largely by deploying large-scale renewable projects. But it indicates it would still likely take years to get new projects off the ground.

The Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s energy utilities, may now consider a range of changes to its renewable energy program, including updating renewable energy targets, according to department spokesperson James Denn. State law provides the commission with the authority to “temporarily suspend or modify” its targets under certain circumstances.

Before the commission implements any changes, it will seek and review public comment about the report, according to Denn.

Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said the review demonstrates the need for the state to ramp up its effort to transition away from fossil fuels.

“We need to keep pressing forward,” said Tighe. “We've had some fits and starts in the renewable energy industry, but we need to keep pressing in order for us to move to a foundation of a clean energy economy, in order to meet our broader climate goals.”

Other advocacy groups say the state’s failure to remain on track to meet its targets bodes poorly for Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration’s commitment to tackling climate change.

“The State’s report is a damning indictment on Governor Hochul’s climate record,” said Liz Moran in a statement. Moran is a New York policy advocate at Earthjustice. “On day one, the Governor was handed a blueprint to lead the fight against climate change and usher in New York’s greener future — but instead she’s rolled back key climate policies.”

Several environmental groups, including Earthjustice, have recently called on Hochul to hold a special climate session in Albany, after several priority bills failed to pass the Legislature during the regular session this year. That came after the governor announced an indefinite pause to the state’s congestion pricing plan during the final days of the legislative session, which would have curbed emissions from cars in New York City.

A spokesperson for Hochul said in a statement that the governor “remains fully committed to building the green economy at the best value for New York consumers."

The next review of the state’s progress towards its renewable energy commitments is expected in 2026.