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New York advisory panel recommendations to include gas-fired plant moratorium

Highlights

Recommendations presented May 10

No new, repowered gas-fired plants

New York's Power Generation Advisory Panel will recommend a moratorium against new fossil fuel-fired plant construction to the state's Climate Action Council, the panel's chair said May 3.

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The concept of a moratorium has been included as a recommendation, though consensus on it was not reached among all panel members, said Sarah Osgood, panel chair and director of policy implementation at the ‎New York State Department of Public Service, during a remotely held meeting of the panel.

"We had presented at our last meeting that there was a concept of a moratorium on new and repowered gas facilities and that has been incorporated as a component of a recommendation," Osgood said.

Based on public comments, there was generally broad support for the advisory panel's agenda with "lots of support for energy efficiency and renewables as well as energy storage" and a lot of calls for equity and urgency of action, Osgood said.

There was some concern with the pace of renewable energy project build-out and requests for earlier engagement with local communities when planning renewable energy projects, according to a presentation given during the meeting.

The panel is preparing to present its recommendations to the state's Climate Action Council on May 10. The CAC is charged with developing the rules and regulations that will guide the implementation of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act which mandates an emissions-free power system by 2040, among numerous other goals.

Other key topics regarding the panel's recommendations identified by commenters were around the role of nuclear power and natural gas infrastructure in New York' energy transition.

Most commenters were evenly split between pro- and anti-nuclear power. Those in favor of the power source pointed to the benefits of its emissions-free baseload generation, contribution to power grid reliability and it being a preferred alternative to building out gas-fired power plants that would increase carbon dioxide emissions, according to the presentation.

Those against nuclear power highlighted health and safety concerns associated with radiation and spent fuel rod storage while expressing a preference for supporting renewable energy instead.

Natural gas infrastructure

Most commenters called for preventing continued gas infrastructure build out, specifically regarding new power plant construction. Many also said there should be a plan to phase out existing gas-fired power plants with a priority on closing peaking facilities around New York City, the presentation said.

Feedback also focused on the inconsistency of expanding gas infrastructure with the state's greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, as well as the negative impacts fossil fuel infrastructure can have on communities. Many said they would prefer investments are made in renewable energy, energy storage and power transmission that can replace the need for gas-fired generation.

One of the more controversial recommendations is to institute a moratorium on permitting, licensing, siting, and construction of any new or repowered fossil fuel electric generating facility until the final CAC regulations are adopted by the state.

Post moratorium, new or repowered facilities would only be allowed if they complied with the regulations and processes established during the moratorium, a system reliability need is confirmed, and operations are terminated by 2040.

The advisory panel members confirmed during the meeting they are comfortable moving these recommendations forward to the CAC.

The CAC is a 22-member committee that will prepare a scoping plan to achieve the state's clean energy and climate agenda. Its membership consists of 10 representatives from state agencies and 10 representatives from academia, trade organizations and environmental groups.

The CAC is due to issue its draft scoping plan by Jan. 1, 2022 and then adopt the final scoping plan for submission to the governor and legislative leaders on Jan. 1, 2023.