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Trump won’t stop NY green push, clean energy leaders say

Top executives at New York’s green bank and clean energy authority think a change in federal policy will not halt the state’s shift towards renewables.

While President Trump’s election has been met with dismay by advocates of clean energy, two of New York’s leaders in the sector do not expect renewable growth in the state to be stymied by changes in federal policy.

In interviews with Infrastructure Investor, John Rhodes, president and chief executive of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and Caroline Angoorly, chief operating officer of the New York Green Bank, both remained optimistic regarding clean energy and said actions at the federal level should have little impact on their organisations’ missions.

“There is so much momentum” regarding investments in and support for renewables, Angoorly said, “that the recent change of administration federally, I think, does not stop that in its tracks, does not damage that.”

“We’re on a strong path forward in New York, and I anticipate that will continue,” she added.

Rhodes said he would not speculate on what Trump’s energy policy will be, but noted that the president is likely to halt former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was announced in 2015 and is aimed at reducing carbon pollution. But scrapping the programme will not impact New York, Rhodes argued, since the state is committed to the plan’s standards – with or without a federal mandate – as a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“The Clean Power plan was never itself going to drive energy outcomes in New York,” the NYSERDA president explained. “We’ve got our course, it’s set, we’re on it, and we’re not missing a beat.”

A division of NYSERDA, the Green Bank was established by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013 and mobilised $927 million towards clean energy initiatives in 2016. The state aims to generate half its energy needs from clean power by 2030 under Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, which Rhodes said will provide New Yorkers with “a clean, affordable and resilient energy system.”

During his campaign, Trump blasted climate change as a hoax and vowed to focus on developing traditional forms of energy like oil and coal. While he’s given mixed signals regarding the Paris Agreement reached in 2015 to address climate change since taking office, he has promised to eliminate many of his predecessor’s environmental regulations.