On New York’s 50% Renewable Energy Goal, Things Just Got Real

Posted by Anne Reynolds on Jun 8, 2017 10:02:00 AM

A version of this guest post first appeared on the ACE NY blog.


It can be a long road from the announcement of any new policy — like New York’s 50% by 2030 Renewable Energy Standard — to on-the-ground results. In this case, the results will look like new wind turbines spinning and new grid-scale solar projects generating power. New York took a big step down that road last week when the state released its first call for projects under the new 50% goal, soliciting 2.5 million MWh of renewable energy generation. For the folks trying to develop and build wind and solar projects in our state, things just got real.

This solicitation calls for bids from renewable energy developers – wind, solar, hydropower, fuel cells, or sustainable biomass. The projects will compete for contracts that allow them to get financed, built, and delivering clean energy. Each bid will be evaluated on price, so that New York strikes the best deal for electricity customers. But other factors will be considered as well, such as diversity of projects, local economic benefits, or a project’s ability to produce power at times of peak demand. 

With this announcement, New York offers a striking contrast to President Trump's misguided decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords, and instead focuses on creating new jobs and investment in clean energy while meeting customer needs. NYSERDA will be purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs) for 1.5 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity per year. It would take roughly 580 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity to produce this much electricity, but the winning portfolio will undoubtedly include a mix of technologies. The 2016 solicitation – the last under the old regime – awarded 11 contracts for a total 260 MW: two wind projects, one solar, one fuel cell, and seven hydro projects. 

More good news is that NYPA will purchase an additional 1 million MWh, and is getting creative about contracting by inviting bids for other forms of long-term contracts, including pre-paid bundled power purchase agreements and pre-paid REC-only contracts. Not only will this support renewable energy projects, but it should provide some great information about what types of contracts will get the best deal for New Yorkers.

So, if you are rooting for renewables in New York – and the cleaner air and climate action they will bring – this announcement is big news. Companies aiming to invest in New York now have the chance to compete for contracts to get projects built, and New York is really on the road to 50% renewables by 2030. 

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