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Cuomo Unveils Green Energy Program

wind turbines
WAMC/Pat Bradley

Governor Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a plan to bring more green energy and what the Democrat says will be thousands of jobs to New York. Plans include new solar farms, offshore wind turbines and more transmission lines across the state.Cuomo, in the third of a series of four State of the State speeches, says $26 billion will be spent in public-private partnerships on 100 projects, including solar energy farms in Saratoga, Cortland, Livingston and Lewis counties, and the building of two major offshore wind farms, with 90 turbines each, off of Long Island. One will be 20 miles off of Jones Beach, the other 60 miles off the coast at Montauk, producing 2,500 megawatts of power. 

“Don’t worry, neither will be visible from the shore,” the governor added. “This is the largest production of renewable energy by any state in the United States’ history.”

In addition, the Port of Albany will become a center for manufacturing the wind towers to be used at the offshore sites and existing facilities in Brooklyn will be beefed up.  

"We will establish the nation's first offshore wind tower manufacturing facility at the Port of Albany," Cuomo said. "Transforming a brownfield into a state-of-the-art factory for wind towers. The project will create 500 construction jobs and will employ 300 highly skilled full-time workers."

To move all of that new power around, Cuomo says he’s opening a competitive bidding process for three projects involving hundreds of miles of new or strengthened transmission lines. They include two along the entire length of eastern New York that would bring Canadian hydropower through the North Country, the Capital Region and the Hudson Valley to New York City, where the demand for energy is greatest. A third would run the length of the Hudson Valley. Twenty-six miles would be added in Western New York to distribute power more efficiently from the hydropower dam in Niagara Falls.  

“All of these projects will break the congestion and open the grid,” Cuomo said. “All of these projects will break ground this year.”

It’s the second time in his decade as governor that Cuomo has proposed major green energy projects. His first attempt, a solar panel factory at a former steel plant in Lackawanna in Western New York, known as the Buffalo Billion, did not work out as planned. 

A state Comptroller’s report in August found that the project is yet to produce the hundreds of jobs initially promised, and that the state entity in charge, Empire State Development did not properly manage the enterprise. Scandals related to the Buffalo Billion resulted in prison sentences for several involved, including the governor’s former closest aide, Joe Percoco, and the former head of SUNY Polytechnic Institute Alain Kaloyeros, and Buffalo area developer Louis Ciminelli.

Environmental groups praised the new initiatives. In a statement, NYPIRG’s Liz Moran says the governor is right that global warming poses an “existential threat,” and she urges Cuomo to go further and eliminate tax subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.  

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