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Local Buffalo community groups, leaders ask for strong renewable energy commitment


Fri, May 13th 2016 10:00 pm

WNY hosts second of 12 clean energy standard hearings

Submitted by the Sierra Club

Community leaders, elected officials and more than 25 local residents joined a visibility event prior to the Amherst Clean Energy Standard (CES) public hearing Thursday, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make an enforceable commitment to renewable energy that includes large-scale offshore wind power and supports local in-state renewable energy.

By requiring utilities and public energy authorities to purchase a certain amount of renewable power each year, the CES will help the governor achieve his goal of generating 50 percent of New York state's electricity from renewables by 2030.

There are 12 public hearings throughout the state this month that will help to determine the future of New York's clean energy programs.

"The Clean Energy Standard will help to transform our state and combat climate change," Assemblyman Sean Ryan said. "I have been a strong supporter of clean renewable energy during my time in the Assembly, because I know that we must work tirelessly to combat climate change here in New York and across the country. Gov. Cuomo has noted that New York is leading by example and I thank the governor for his efforts to combat climate change. The future of our state and the entire world will depend on our commitment to clean renewable energy. If we make the investments today, we will have a cleaner and greener planet in the future." 

In December, Cuomo directed New York's Public Service Commission to create a clean energy standard mandating New York power 50 percent of its electric sector with renewable energy by 2030, putting the state in line with the existing goal of reducing climate pollution 40 percent by 2030. In early 2016, the PSC put forward a first proposal on the Clean Energy Standard with a goal of finalizing it by mid-year. However, to achieve that goal, New York will need to double renewable energy generation within 14 years by committing to increased energy efficiency, and solar coupled with a large-scale offshore wind program.

"As a state and as a community, we need to continue to fight for energy affordability by diversifying energy sources, boosting the production of renewable energies and investing in energy efficiency," state Sen. Tim Kennedy said. "I've proudly stood alongside organizations like the Sierra Club and PUSH Buffalo to advocate for these issues in the past, and will continue to do so to ensure that their progressive vision, priorities and long-term goals are recognized at the state level."

An offshore wind tier would help launch an entirely new industry, with the capacity to power millions of homes, stabilize energy costs, foster locational diversity for renewable energy development, produce millions of dollars in economic investments, spur new economic development and manufacturing opportunities and create tens of thousands of new jobs statewide. In addition to jumpstarting an offshore wind industry, the Clean Energy Standard should also prioritize in-state local renewables. Increased solar, onshore wind and offshore wind could give New York the opportunity to become a regional incubator for a growing industry with the capacity to power millions of homes and create thousands of new jobs for New Yorkers, all while making deep cuts in the state's climate pollution. 

"New York must commit now to a future built on efficiency, broad access to renewable energy, affordable electricity, and offshore wind, which is an upstate issue, because it means there will be more hydro and wind energy that can stay in the region," Patty Ceravole NYPIRG regional supervisor said. "If New Yorkers raise their voices together, we can create a national blueprint for the U.S. to be a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and powering society through renewable energy."

Beyond establishing an enforceable yearly target for renewable energy growth, the groups also asked Cuomo and the commission to establish an enforceable energy-efficiency goal for utilities with a requirement that at least 2 percent annual energy savings are achieved. Neighboring states have already surpassed this amount of annual energy savings and have significant reductions in consumer's electricity costs.

Along with an enforceable renewable and offshore wind mandate, an energy-efficiency target would help ensure the state achieves the larger target of securing 50 percent of electricity from renewables while saving money for citizens across the state.

"A commitment to renewable energy infrastructure is crucial in providing thousands of local, good-paying jobs upstate and helping the area grow its economy as it transitions away from dirty fossil fuels," said David Alicea, organizing representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "Additionally, the governor must increase renewable energy investment across the state in order to meet his target of sourcing 50 percent of New York's energy from renewables by 2030."

"We commend Gov. Cuomo's goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030; now we need a plan with teeth to ensure the goal is realized. Renewable energy and energy-efficiency targets must be truly enforceable, and offshore wind must be part of the solution," said Brian Smith, associate executive director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "The Clean Energy Standard has the potential to make New York a global leader in advancing clean energy and fighting climate change, but to accomplish this, we must get the plan right."

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