The departure of Public Service Commissioner Maureen Harris comes long after her term expired in 2012, and at a critical juncture for New York’s energy future.
In the coming months, the Commission is expected to decide on $5.7 billion worth of new spending proposed by the Energy Highway Task Force – including the extension of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the state’s primary driver of renewable energy projects. These decisions will have profound impacts on the state’s economy, environment, and quality of life.
The investments are more than we have seen at any one time in over a half a century and represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure a 21st century power grid is constructed on a strong foundation of energy efficiency, clean distributed generation, smart grid technology, and utility scale renewable projects.
Governor Cuomo is swinging for the fences. Once these projects are in place, they will be there for decades. This magnitude requires commissioners who understand regional energy challenges, the need for a diverse mix of clean generation, climate resiliency, the development of a decentralized system adaptable to micro-grids and “islanding”, and a working knowledge of innovative financing mechanisms to bring renewable projects online.
As the Governor seeks new commissioners, this is not a time for political patronage. Our economy is on the line. We deserve an appointment with real world experience with energy finance and modern technologies in order to guide policies that will ensure cost-effective investments toward a clean energy future.