To borrow my colleague Anne Reynold’s sentiments regarding the state of clean energy, in NY these days following Governor Cuomo’s State of the State and Budget Address, I’m not only feeling pretty good, I’m speechless. Thankfully that won’t stop me from writing about it.
As part of his progressive agenda, the Governor laid out his Green New Deal for NY and it was not only progressive, but breathtaking. He upped NY’s existing renewable energy standard for electricity to 70% by 2030 (it was 50%), he quadrupled NY’s goal for offshore wind by calling for 9,000 MW of capacity by 2035 and he called for the creation of a Climate Change Council to chart the pathway to economy-wide carbon neutrality. All three are really positive wins for clean energy.
He could have stopped there, and I would have been ecstatic, but he didn’t. A critical element to the development of clean, renewable offshore wind is port development. Massachusetts got a head start by investing $100 million in its port in New Bedford years ago and it has paid enormous dividends. Governor Cuomo’s budget upped the ante and will include a nation-leading $200 million in port development, which will dovetail nicely with the offshore wind bids that are due to come into NYSERDA next month. Bidders in New York’s first offshore wind solicitation are asked to spell out what investments they would make in ports if NYS also made investments. Well, now bidders know what to expect from the State and should be able to sharpen their bid documents. The New York Offshore Wind Alliance (NYOWA) advocated strongly for port development funds because this is where many of the offshore wind jobs will be. And jobs and economic development are the key to the success of the clean energy movement.
To compliment his port infrastructure funds, the Governor called for the creation of a New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development and an offshore wind training center to ensure that we maximize the impact of the supply chain and have a well-trained workforce ready to build this new American industry, right here in New York.
Last but not least on the offshore front, the Governor is directing a first of its kind effort to evaluate and develop an offshore transmission grid. How the transmission grid is developed can have huge impacts on the cost and efficiency of offshore wind projects and, in the end, this effort should benefit not only NY but the industry as it develops up and down the east coast.
I’ve limited today’s blog to the offshore wind elements of the Governor’s proposal, but you should check out Anne’s blog on the ACE NY site for more about other clean energy initiatives. The entire package is remarkable, forward looking, and makes me proud to be a New Yorker. If others follow NY’s lead, there’s hope that we just might just make headway against climate change yet.