New York adopts 50 percent renewable mandate

The Clean Energy Mandate is part of Governor Cuomo’s plan to overhaul New York’s energy system and change the role of utilities.

New York's Public Service Commission has approved a clean energy mandate that enforces Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to generate 50 percent of the state's energy from renewables by 2030.

The Clean Energy Standard is confirmation that New York will pursue Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) to overhaul its electric system. Aging infrastructure and an unreliable and inefficient grid prompted Cuomo to seek reforms when he announced REV, which plans to increase the role of renewables and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030, and by 80 percent by 2050.

The standard is planned to be rolled out in several phases. Utilities and power suppliers are required to generate 26.31 percent of the state's total electricity by 2017 and 30.54 percent by 2021.

The Clean Energy Standard will cost less than $2 a month to the average residential customer's bill, according to a statement. It will “prevent backsliding on progress” by providing support for nuclear plants through a subsidy worth 1.7 cents per kWh. Renewables will receive federal and state subsidies of up to 4.5 cents per kWh.

Cuomo said in a statement that New York “is taking concrete, cost-effective steps today to safeguard this state's environment for decades to come”.

New York chairman for energy and finance Richard Kauffman added that Cuomo had started a “clean energy revolution” in New York. “Today is just the latest step in our path to a cleaner energy future. The Clean Energy Standard aligns with the Governor's directive to phase out coal power by 2020 and affirms New York's position as a leader in combatting climate change.”

To help fund these changes, Cuomo launched a 10-year, $5 billion Clean Energy Fund in January to encourage clean energy investment. Over half the fund, $2.7 billion, will go towards increasing consumer demand for clean energy and energy efficiency. The NY-Sun Initiative, a solar financing platform that has helped finance 202MW of rooftop solar installations, received $961 million. The New York Green Bank received $782 million, and $717 million was allotted to research and development.

In May, the Public Service Commission approved regulations that will incentivise utilities to align financial objectives with consumer interests. The regulations will shift utilities' role in the energy system from a service provider to a platform model where the utility collects payments for market services, such as connecting consumers to a distributed generation source.