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Study: NY plan to save nukes, promote renewables could produce $4.39B in net benefits

NewYork's proposed clean energy standard plan requiring 50% of the state'selectricity to be generated by renewables by 2030 while also ensuring thatupstate nuclear plants continue to generate power could cost New Yorkers $3.62billion but deliver $4.39 billion in net benefits after accounting for theimpact of reduced carbon emissions, according to a new of the program.

TheNew York Public Service Commission on April 8 released a white paper on theprojected costs and benefits of implementing the clean energy standard, whichwas proposed on Jan.13 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in support of his Reforming the Energy Vision strategy.According to the report, New York can meet its energy targets with "lessthan a 1% impact on electricity bills" — the equivalent of less than $1per month for the average residential customer — and reap a net positive benefitof $1.8 billion by 2023, "even in this period of lower electricity pricesdue to historically low natural gas prices."

Aspart of the clean energy standard, Cuomo has proposed "zero emissionscredits" to compensate nuclear plants to ensure reliability while helpingNew York meet its goalof cutting carbon dioxide emissions 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels. The subsidiesto keep money-losing nuclear plants commercially viable and online in the eraof low electricity prices could cost the state about $270 million but result in$2.8 billion in net carbon benefits after considering the "social cost ofcarbon" as defined by the EPA.

"Theproposed clean energy standard will launch investments in new renewable powerto meet 50% of New York's electricity needs by the year 2030," said JonSorensen, a spokesman with the New York Department of Public Service, whichincludes the PSC. "The study shows that an affordable investment inrenewable and zero-emissions power will provide benefits for communities acrossthe state, and net benefits of nearly $2 billion including the impact ofreduced carbon emissions."

"NewYork is again demonstrating that with its nation-leading aggressive greenhousegas emissions reduction activities will provide both environmental and economicbenefits," Sorensen said.

TheDemocratic governor's ambitious plan to expand New York's share of renewablesand to cut its greenhouse gas emissions has been well-received amongenvironmental activists. Among them is Lisa Dix, an anti-coal activist with theSierra Club, who welcomed the findings of the cost-benefit report in anews release. Dixsaid the report shows that Cuomo's mandate is "cost-effective" andhas "real economic and environmental benefits."

"Renewableenergy development through the clean energy standard will create thousands ofjobs, increase tax revenues both up and downstate and help the governor protectthe health of New York families," Dix said.