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Clean Energy Advocates Call For Continuing Support For NY's Green Energy Programs

Ken Teegardin/SeniorLiving.Org/Flickr

As the state convened stakeholder discussions on the future of New York’s clean energy funding today, a coalition of clean energy advocates put forward its own vision of New York’s “Clean Energy Fund.”

The state is considering combining three successful programs – the Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS, the Systems Benefit Charge, and the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard – into one revenue stream: the Clean Energy Fund.

The advocates say that the state’s funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy has been successful. But they believe that while New York is actively looking to move away from the public incentives and grants-based approach, it should maintain its commitments through 2015 to clean energy goals and programs by extending them an additional 10 years.

David Gahl is with the Pace Energy and Climate Center. "To guide the transition to this new market-based approach, this group of advocates thinks that New York should establish clear public policy goals, so that regardless of whether you continue with some of the state incentive programs or if you take the approach that the administration wants to pursue, you end up in the right place."

Gahl outlines aggressive but achievable goals for efficiency and renewables the advocates believe New York should establish. "Maintain its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. We're also calling for the establishment of some other shorter term goals. Ten year goals, trying to meet  20 percent of the state's electricity demand by the year 2025 through energy efficiency. Another goal that we believe should help guide this transition should be setting a 50 percent goal for getting our electricity from renewable energy by 2025."

Alliance for Clean Energy executive director Anne Reynolds emphasizes there should be a commitment to RPS funding.  "When you assign a value to carbon reduction, the benefits are nine dollars to one or five dollars to one, depending on what you set as the social cost of carbon, but in all cases it's a net benefit to New Yorkers. Its resulted in 56 renewable energy projects under the main tier, that's the larger type projects. Overall it's been a great benefit to New York."

As New York explores how to amend and extend these critical energy programs, the clean energy advocates promise they'll provide more detailed recommendations to state officials. 

The New York State Energy and Research and Development Authority responded via email, saying in part, "To realize the vision stated in the State’s Draft State Energy Plan of an energy system that is on a pathway to 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the State will consider and implement new approaches to scale up the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The need to scale clean energy for increased deployment is a key principle that NYSERDA is taking into account in the development of a Clean Energy Fund proposal."

The Cuomo Administration did not respond to requests for comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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