– Clean Energy Advocates Call for Continuing Support for Green Energy Programs

July 1, 2014

As the State convenes stakeholder discussions on the future of New York’s clean energy funding this week, a coalition of clean energy advocates has put forward its own vision of NY’s “Clean Energy Fund.”

For Immediate Release: July 1, 2014

Anne Reynolds (Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Inc.): 518-248-4556

Valerie Strauss (Association for Energy Affordability, Inc.): 518-366-0131

Travis Proulx (Environmental Advocates): 518-462-5526 x238

Dave Gahl (Pace): 518-462-5526

Clean Energy Advocates Call for Continuing Support for Green Energy Programs

(Albany, July 1, 2014) – As the State convenes stakeholder discussions on the future of New York’s clean energy funding this week, a coalition of clean energy advocates has put forward its own vision of NY’s “Clean Energy Fund.” The group stated that NY’s funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy has proven to be enormously successful. And while the state is actively looking to move away from a public incentives and grants-based approach, it should maintain its commitments to clean energy goals and programs until it is demonstrated that the markets are up to the task by reinstating resources for an additional 10 years (they are currently scheduled to expire in 2015).

“Collectively, we are fully supportive of New York’s efforts to update and reform its renewable energy and energy efficiency programs to be more market-based, affordable, and efficient. We welcome the dialogue regarding how best to accomplish NY’s policy goals and we believe that reassessment of the State’s programs is a healthy and positive undertaking,” stated Valerie Strauss, director of policy & regulatory affairs for the Association for Energy Affordability.  

New York’s efficiency and renewable energy programs to-date have garnered impressive success. A decade ago, New York had just 48 megawatts[1] of wind power; today, after a decade of  the RPS program,  NY has 1.8 gigawatts of wind[2], over 36 times more.  Just four years ago, New York State had minimal amounts of solar power installed; today, after the first phase of the NY-Sun program, not counting 2013 installations, NY has nearly 200 megawatts installed. The programs have positive economic impact: the 2013 RPS Assessment reported that every $1 of State RPS funding invested results in almost $3 in direct investments in New York, on average. New York’s efficiency programs also have shown substantial success. The EEPS and SBC programs alone have delivered cumulative annual energy efficiency savings of over 7,500 GWh and 11 TBtu.

Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy stated, “All over the U.S., people are watching what is unfolding in New York to redesign the electricity market. During this transition, NY should signal a strong commitment to clean, advanced energy businesses. A 10-year Clean Energy Fund will send that signal, and facilitate a smooth transition to the market-based approaches that fully value all the attributes of clean, green energy.”

Conor Bambrick, air and energy director at Environmental Advocates NY said, “Governor Cuomo has made an aggressive commitment to reducing climate-altering air pollution a full 80 percent by 2050. And the federal government has set forth a target to cut carbon pollution based on New York meeting its clean energy goals. The programs supported by the Clean Energy Fund are critical to keeping us on track.”

David Gahl from the Pace Energy and Climate Center said, “The Clean Energy Fund is intended to serve as a bridge during the transition to a market-based approach for encouraging energy efficiency and renewables in New York.  It should be structured in a manner that maintains support for these important public policy objectives until the markets demonstrate they can deliver.”

Potential Changes & Recommendations

New York State is contemplating combining three successful programs – the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the Systems Benefit Charge, and the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard – into one revenue stream: the Clean Energy Fund.

Groups contend that a smooth transition to the CEF requires the following framework: 

NY should establish aggressive but achievable long-term goals for efficiency and renewables, with interim targets and other related metrics.

  • 50% renewable energy by 2025;
  • 20% of projected demand met by efficiency by 2025; and
  • 80% reduction in climate pollution by 2050

NY should track progress towards the interim goals resulting both from the existing suite of programs and new, market-based approaches, and share these detailed reports with the public; and

NY should only reduce funding for the current suite of programs during that 10-year period when the new market-based approaches begin to show results that are sufficient to meet the overall goals and interim metrics.

As New York explores how to amend and extend these critical energy programs, clean energy advocates will be providing more detailed recommendations to State officials, which will include:

  • Maintain pre-scheduled issuance of a renewable energy solicitation to maintain a pipeline of green energy projects;
  • Allow increased participation in clean energy programs through “shared renewables” and community choice aggregation;
  • Explore new contracting mechanisms for utility-scale renewable energy;
  • Continue technology-neutral renewable energy policy;
  • Change energy efficiency programs to better calculate benefit-cost ratios and account for the wholesale price suppression effect;
  • Prioritize New York electricity consumer savings over out-of-state generation owners and fossil fuel provider losses instead of treating them equally;
  • Reassess the DPS societal cost of carbon, which is currently set at a very conservative $15/ton, much lower than the value utilized at the federal level[1];
  • Ensure capture of cost-effective energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings;
  • Design and support programs to target affordable multi-family housing and other low-income populations to ensure equitable delivery of clean energy benefits.