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Activist Groups To NY: Fast Track Clean Energy Now

wind and solar
Composite Image by Dave Lucas
Alternative energy sources include wind and solar power.

In the wake of devastating hurricanes and other extreme weather in the past several weeks, more than 60 organizations signed a letter calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to move New York to 100 percent clean, renewable energy as soon as possible. 

The groups say it is imperative that the state immediately halt any investments in the future use of fossil fuels, including natural gas. They suggest that investing in clean energy will create living wage jobs and lower future energy costs while improving health by eliminating air pollution. Mark Dunlea is chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund:   "The state is doing a study right now as to how fast that is scientifically possible. We want that study to be as transparent as possible. And then we hope that the governor will then commit to implement it. And it also means that he has to stop supporting the use of fossil fuels, including his idea to spend perhaps a hundred million dollars to expand the gas plant that is heating the Empire State Plaza and lock in gas emissions into a low-income people-of-color community for the next 30 years in the Arbor Hill area."

The groups want the governor to use that study to develop a climate action plan, which they say would need to include specific timetables, intermediate steps, and benchmarks.

  • Several dozen legislators and more than 100 organizations are endorsing legislation to amend the State Energy Master Plan to adopt a goal of 100% clean energy by 2030.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi: "As was said in the State of the State last year, NYSERDA is in the midst of a feasibility study on how to implement a 100 percent renewable grid in this state. In other words, what these activists are seeking is already well underway, and we appreciate their support in these shared goals."
Meantime, as a result of groundwork laid by NYSERDA, the state announced it has asked the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to consider identifying and leasing at least four new Wind Energy Areas off the coast.  NYSERDA spokeswoman Kate Muller says each of these would accommodate at least 800 megawatts of offshore wind generation.   "Which would help New York support Governor Cuomo's Clean Energy Standard Mandate of 50 percent of electricity by 2030 coming from renewable energy resources."

Muller notes the objective includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels.

But advocates for the poor and middle class say those groups have been left out of the Clean Energy Program.   "The problem with how it’s being laid out right now is that it's putting banks and large corporate utilities ahead of communities."  Kim Fraczek  is director of the Sane Energy Project, a member of the Energy Democracy Alliance. 4 "We should actually be engaging our communities, making our system at the Public Service Commission more accessible to regular community members of New York state."

Reforming the Energy Vision is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy.  To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY

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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