New York Governor Cuomo announced the state will immediately move on its Energy Highway Blueprint, which is expected to spur $5.7 billion in private investment in 3200 megawatts (MW) of new energy and transmission capacity - enough for 3.2 million homes.
The plan, introduced in his State of the State address earlier this year, will bring renewable energy from upstate and western regions to downstate NY where demand is highest. It will modernize old, dirty power plants and create the most advanced energy grid in the nation.
"As we work to grow NY's economy, we need reliable, affordable, clean power to leverage significant private sector investments, to allow businesses to grow, and to create jobs," says Governor Cuomo. "The energy highway will ensure that business and residential customers across NY State have access to the affordable power they need to plan for not just today, but also for the future."
Specifics of the Energy Blueprint are:
- $250 million in 270 MW of renewable energy, leveraging $425 million in private investment
- $1.5 billion to modernize inefficient, high-emission plants, adding another 750 MW of power
- $1 billion for 1200 MW of additional capacity to help meet reliability needs as power plants retire
- $1.3 billion to enhance existing transmission infrastructure to improve reliabilty, safety, reduce costs to customers and cut emissions
- $1 billion for 1000 MW of new electric transmission capacity
- $250 million in smart grid technologies to create the most advanced energy management control center in the US
- Begin field studies of offshore wind development potential in the Atlantic Ocean
The plan, adopted this week, was chosen from 130 submissions by investor-owned utilities, private developers and investors who responded to the state's Request for Information in April. Public comments were also considered.
While the blueprint provides more clarity for NY's energy policy, there's still plenty of uncertainty.
Earlier this month, the state extended its moratorium on natural gas fracking, but gas (and oil) provide 40% of the state's electricity, a situation of potental "overdependency," according to Stephen Whitley, president of the NY Independent System Operator, who spoke at an Alliance for Clean Energy NY meeting.
Almost two-thirds of planned wind projects have been shelved because of the glut of cheap natural gas and dwindling financing related to the expiring federal wind production tax credit.
As of September, 29 wind projects are under construction (2300 MW), down from 70 planned (9200 MW) three years ago. "Some people may think natural gas prices will be cheap forever, but I would not bank on that," he says.
Here's NY's Energy Blueprint: