New York State Says Goodbye to Coal, Hello To Green Economy

For the past two years, New York’s Governor Cuomo has thrilled environmental activists with expanding committments to a green economy, and in this year’s State of the State address, he put the frosting on the cake.

"We will eliminate all use of coal in New York State by 2020," he said. "We will help the few remaining coal plants transition but we must clean our air and protect our health and that must be our first priority." Closing the three coal plants will cut emissions 13% from NY’s power sector, says Sierra Club.

"Let’s become the international capital for clean and green energy products," Cuomo said. "We have already attracted some of the largest solar manufacturers on the planet to New York State. We’ve already attracted some of the biggest research and development firms on the planet to New York. I now propose a $15 million Clean Energy Opportunity Training Program so SUNY and our community colleges can train the workers with solar technology and installation.

SolarCity’s gorgeous Gigafactory will be near Buffalo, NY:

SolarCity Gigafactory

"I believe this is the economy of tomorrow and while we’re developing the business plan, we can also employ it in the state of New York. I propose installing solar on over 150,000 homes and businesses and converting SUNY facilities to renewable energy by the year 2020. We can do it and we should.

"My friends, this is the path for the future to ensure that the planet has a future."

Another goal is to upgrade the energy efficiency of 500,000 homes, including state-owned affordable housing units and a 40% increase in wind installations, including offshore wind.

And he proposes raising the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to $300 million, the highest level ever, and about double current levels.

Cuomo’s Proposals Add Up

Last year, Cuomo proposed raising NY’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% by 2030 – now, "Reforming the Energy Vision," – hailed as the most aggressive in the country – is the law. It includes the goals to cut emissions 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

In 2014, he banned fracking in NY, and last year, he vetoed a controversial LNG plant and refused to renew the license for the Indian Point Nuclear Plant on the shore of the Hudson River.

What’s left? Activists are focused on preventing a network of natural gas pipelines and oil trains in the state.

Read our articles, Reimagining New York for a New Reality and New York Gets Energy Czar, Lots of Cleantech Goodies.

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