MANHATTAN (CN) — Saying that New York will soon produce half of its energy from renewable sources, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans Wednesday to build statewide infrastructure for the generation and transmission of wind and solar power.
After outlining some of the key threats of climate change — sea level rise, wildfires, flooding — Cuomo pitched his ideas on how to facilitate a carbon-free future.
“Nature is telling us, ‘do something, or I will,’” said Cuomo, during the third day of his 2021 State of the State address. “So little has been done, and so much has been said.”
He then pledged to build two dozen new wind and solar installations, adding to the 68 installations already underway in the Empire State, while also securing energy delivery with battery infrastructure and an “energy superhighway” to transmit power across the state.
Once completed, the energy network would provide 12,400 megawatts of green energy, or enough to power 6 million homes, plans suggest.
Cuomo said the state will break ground this year on two new wind farms, each with more than 90 turbines, which will allow New York to get more than half of its energy from renewable sources.
The pair of turbine installations will be located off the coast of Long Island, 20 miles from Jones Beach and 60 miles from Montauk Point, respectively.
They will be the largest two wind energy projects in the country.
“Don’t worry,” Cuomo said Wednesday, “neither will be visible from the shore.”
Together, the new wind turbine installations will produce 2,400 megawatts of power. For reference, a typical coal plant produces about 600 megawatts.
Farther north, various solar projects are in the works, including a 200-megawatt solar power project in Orleans County, which borders Lake Ontario. A separate, 250-megawatt installation is planned in Montgomery County, as are smaller projects in Washington and Franklin counties.
The projects are expected to create 50,000 jobs in all, Cuomo said, adding that they will be partly funded by $29 billion in private investments.
Cuomo also addressed the question of how to move energy from areas of the state where it will be created to those that consume the most energy, like New York City — all while avoiding bottlenecking and congestion in the flow of transmission.
The answer, the governor said, is to build a “green energy transmission superhighway” throughout the state.
Construction has already begun on an 86-mile path from Massena to Croghan, and soon other projects will begin in western New York, the mid-Hudson and the Capital region.
Starting Wednesday, New York is accepting proposals for additional “transmission arteries,” to bring renewable energy toward New York City.
Anne Reynolds, executive director of the nonprofit Alliance for Clean Energy New York, praised the movement toward clean energy and said the industry is proud to be part of New York’s economic recovery as it weathers the Covid-19 pandemic — speaking to the rebuilding efforts that have been a main focus of Cuomo’s State of the State remarks.
“These projects will all create construction jobs, permanent jobs, local tax revenue, and lease payments to local landowners,” Reynolds said in a statement. “And, they will ultimately create pollution-free power to modernize NY’s grid and clean the air.”
Reynolds clarified that two of the newly announced solar projects are with the New York Power Authority, and 22 are with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
She went on to say that the two new wind energy projects, and additional investments in the Port of Albany and South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, are promising developments.
“It is impressive that New York now has contracts for half of the 9,000 MW of offshore wind energy we are aiming for,” Reynolds said.
But the Alliance for Clean Energy also notes that there is unfinished business in determining how to properly tax new wind and solar projects. The organization is calling on Cuomo and state legislators to create a standard for taxing the new projects.
During his Wednesday address, Cuomo spent several minutes speaking about race disparities in environmental health, drawing a line to the pandemic: Environmental pollution contributes to conditions like asthma, which disproportionately affects Black and poor communities, and also worsens the outcome for Covid-19 patients.
“Our green economy must also work for people of color,” Cuomo said.
Through wage agreements and standards set by the state’s Minority- and Women- Owned Business Enterprise Program, the governor said, “we will ensure all New Yorkers benefit from our green energy plan.”
“It’s a matter of basic social justice,” he said.
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