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FEATURE: Details slow to emerge for New York climate law set to upend power sector

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FEATURE: Details slow to emerge for New York climate law set to upend power sector


Uncertain path to 2040 emissions-free power

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9 GW of offshore wind by 2035

New York — The New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act's renewable energy and other targets are among the most rigorous of any major economy in the world, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, but uncertainty remains regarding how those targets will be met.

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With important milestones coming due, the drastic redesign of the state's power system envisioned within the law will start taking shape over the coming months.

The agreement will help New York lead the way in developing the largest source of offshore wind power in the nation as part of the most aggressive climate law in the US, Cuomo said when he signed the legislation in 2019.

The CLCPA mandates an economy-wide 85% greenhouse gas emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2050, 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040, 70% renewable electricity by 2030, 9,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2035, 3,000 MW of energy storage capacity by 2030, 6,000 MW of solar power capacity by 2025 and a carbon emissions reduction of 22 million tons through energy efficiency and electrification.

Despite the excitement over signing the aggressive legislation, the law itself is a framework that outlines the state's desired goals and creates a host of committees and working groups to develop the regulatory and other mechanisms that will achieve the goals.

"The New York Public Service Commission already has a program in place to achieve the '70x30' goal through Clean Energy Standard Tier 1 to Tier 4 procurements, but what's unclear is how the power sector is expected to provide that last 30% of energy with zero-emissions beyond 2040," Matthew Schwall, director of market policy and regulatory affairs at merchant power generator trade group Independent Power Producers of New York, said in a Feb. 23 email.

For example, the New York State Climate Action Council is a 22-member committee that will prepare a scoping plan to achieve the state's clean energy and climate agenda. It is co-chaired by Doreen Harris, acting president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and Basil Seggos, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The membership consists of 10 representatives from state agencies and 10 representatives from academia, trade organizations and environmental groups. There are six advisory panels focused on topics from power generation to climate justice that are hosting public meetings throughout 2021 to provide recommendations to the Council for consideration as it develops the scoping plan.

Timeline and milestones

The Climate Action Council in 2021 is developing the draft scoping plan with input from the lower committees, while the the DEC and NYSERDA develop a GHG emission limit rulemaking and value of carbon guidance. The agencies will also develop renewable energy programs for meeting the 70% renewable electricity by 2030 target.

The Climate Action Council is due to issue its draft scoping plan by Jan. 1, 2022, which is one of the more important deadlines because the plan will then be discussed and debated throughout the year during a series of public hearings.

Some key things to watch along the way include a June 30, 2021 deadline for the New York Public Service Commission to establish a program for achieving the "70 by 30" renewable energy goal and a zero-emissions power sector by 2040.

"It's clear from state-sponsored and independent studies that some form of dispatchable, quick start and long duration generation will be needed, but it's not clear what fuel and/or technology complies with the 2040 requirement," Schwall said. "This latter question is the biggest issue we need resolved."

A Democrat, Cuomo is also up for re-election in 2022, which could inject additional uncertainty into CLCPA implementation depending on the election results.

On Jan. 1, 2023, the Climate Action Council must adopt the final scoping plan and submit it to the governor and legislative leaders, having taken into account public feedback, Schwall said.

The recommendations will then be included in the next State Energy Plan, with which state agencies must comply. The Climate Action Council will update the scoping plan at least once every four years.

Additional CLCPA details will ultimately emerge in 2024 when the DEC releases regulations based on the scoping plan.

S&P Global Platts LNG Virtual Conference | March 25, 2021

The S&P Global Platts LNG Virtual Conference is gathering the industry to discuss navigation of the global pandemic and the associated risks, the ongoing transition of the global energy economy, policy implications of the 2020 US election and more.

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