In part three of his four-part State of the State, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined plans to grow the green energy economy. Naturally, that’s welcome news for environmentalists, who want to see actions meet words.
Cuomo announced on Wednesday a number of solar along with on- and offshore wind projects. He also committed to phasing out fossil fuels, which caught the attention of Food & Water Watch Northeast Region Director Alex Beauchamp.
“The thing I was most excited in the entire speech is the governor said the exact right thing on fossil fuel power plants, right, saying, we need to replace dirty fossil fuel power plants with clean energy, and I think he said no ifs, ands or buts,” says Beauchamp.
Those were, in fact, Cuomo’s words.
“We must replace fossil fuel plants with clean power,” Cuomo says. “There is no ifs, ands or buts about it, and now is the time to do it.”
Beauchamp expects Cuomo to halt fossil fuel projects across the state, including Danskammer in Newburgh.
“Certainly he would have to say no to Danskammer, but say no to a whole slew of fossil fuel power plants that are proposed all across the state,” says Beauchamp. “So we’re very hopeful he said the right thing on that, and now it’s up to all of us to hold him to his word and make him do the right thing.”
Danskammer was shut down in 2012 following damage from Superstorm Sandy. The plant was sold in 2013 in a bankruptcy sale and, after other transactions, private equity firm Tiger Infrastructure Partners purchased Danskammer in 2017. Now, the plan up for approval is to retire the equipment and repower the facility with state-of-the-art technology, and be able to come online quickly and supply energy when there is no sun or wind.
Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan also wants to see proposed projects like Danskammer halted.
“Scenic Hudson has proposed an alternative — battery storage – for the site, which is completely in line with the governor’s visionary State-of-the-State proposals, and we hope the administration will embrace that,” says Sullivan.
Cuomo, in his address, says a new $2 billion energy superhighway will be optimized by a state-of-the-art battery storage facility. Overall, Sullivan was glad to hear Cuomo place high emphasis on investing in renewable energy.
“We’re going to look carefully at his proposal to expand port operations along the Hudson for transporting components of renewable energy technology down river,” Sullivan says. “And also we’ll look very, very carefully at his proposals for new transmission lines. We recognize there’s a need to have strong transmission capacity across the state, but we will be looking for him to make the same kind of commitments that he made in the past to staying within existing rights of way for any new transmission facilities.”
Cuomo says the bidding process is open for at least three projects to build a green transmission grid, and selected projects would receive state financing. He says one project would start at the northeast corner of the state and run downstate to New York City, some 330 miles.
“Another would add capacity from Massena through Marcy to Rock Tavern, in Orange County, and then build a new line underground to carry the power 70 miles to New York City,” says Cuomo. “We’re also working on a line from Leeds, in Greene County, to New York City.”
A spokesperson for New York Youth Climate Leaders says they also want to see renewable energy infrastructure instead of Danskammer. And they want the elimination of nonessential fossil fuel subsidies from the state budget.