No More All of the Above Energy Plans!

From the April 2014 PNL #833

by Jessica Azulay

On January 7, 2014, the New York State Energy Planning Board released the 2014 draft New York State Energy Plan. The state releases an Energy Plan every four years to map out New York’s energy future. Unfortunately, the 2014 Draft State Energy Plan does not represent the sea-change in energy policy that New York needs to confront the global climate crisis, mounting pollution, public health concerns, or energy affordability.
The draft plan commits to 80% greenhouse-gas reductions by 2050, but the commitment is hollow without aggressive interim targets for greenhouse gas reductions, energy efficiency savings, or renewable energy development. A number of experts have demonstrated that New York has the potential to transition to a carbon-free and nuclear-free energy system. All that’s missing is the political will to change course. Tell Governor Cuomo and the Energy Planning Board to put New Yorkers to work on a major energy transition that will revitalize our economy, improve our health, create energy independence, and give us a fighting chance to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis.


Rally and press conference at the
March 6, 2014 public hearing on the
draft energy plan.
Photo: Ursula Rozum.

Let Governor Cuomo and the NY Energy Planning Board know what you think about the draft Energy Plan

Written public comments will be accepted until April 30, 2014. Read the draft New York Energy Plan and make comments at www.energyplan.ny.gov/Process/Comments.aspx. For more information, including an expanded version of these talking points as well as analysis of the draft Energy Plan from other organizations and experts, visit www.agreenewyork.org.

 

Talking Points on the draft 2014 New York State Energy Plan

• The state should recommit itself to meeting the energy efficiency and renewable energy goals set by the Public Service Commission for 2015 (30% renewable energy and 15% energy efficiency) and should immediately set even more aggressive goals for 2020 and 2030. Both a commitment to the 2015 goals and new, ambitious targets for the coming years are absent from the draft Energy Plan.
•  There are some promising policy proposals included in the plan, including utility reform, better building codes, and financing strategies for efficiency and renewable energy. However, the initiatives lack detailed descriptions and measurable goals.
•  The draft plan promotes  natural gas consumption and the construction of additional gas pipelines and other gas infrastructure in New York. This will encourage fracking in other states and possibly New York, and jeopardize the state’s ability to meet the 80% reduction target by 2050. New York should commit to a ban on fracking and a rapid phase-out of imported gas.
•  The draft plan calls for the conversion of space heating from oil to natural gas, which will create more gas consumers and lock New York into carbon dioxide and methane emissions from gas for decades to come. The state should not subsidize space heating systems that use natural gas and should instead invest in efficient geothermal, solar thermal and electric systems.
•  The draft plan fails to take into account the nuclear plant retirement schedule for New York. All of the state’s reactor licenses will expire by 2050 (two of them in 2029), yet the plan projects nuclear power generation levels above what they are today for 2030. There is no rational basis for these projections. The draft plan also fails to acknowledge or account for the possibility of early nuclear retirements due to aging and economic pressure (even though the FitzPatrick and Ginna reactors in Upstate New York are widely seen as vulnerable to early closure), and says nothing about helping communities and workers transition out of the nuclear industry.
•  The draft plan sets relatively meager targets for electric vehicle adoption and lacks aggressive strategies for reducing transportation-related emissions. Electric cars, increased use of public transit, and community development that discourages sprawl are all acknowledged in the draft plan as necessary. But the plan lacks aggressive policies to take the state from rhetoric to effective action.
•  The draft plan refers to studies that have so far been withheld from the public. These include a greenhouse gas inventory and a study on New York’s potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency. These studies are cited in footnotes of the draft plan, but the public has not been given the opportunity to review them. Without transparent methodology and data, it is impossible to fully evaluate the energy plan.
•  The draft plan sets energy affordability as one of its top-line goals, yet lacks any policies that will directly ensure that low-income ratepayers do not see their bills increase as a proportion of their income.
Points compiled by Jessica Azulay, staff organizer for the Peace Council and Alliance for a Green Economy.

Points compiled by Jessica Azulay, staff organizer for the Peace Council and Alliance for a Green Economy.

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