New York’s Clean Energy Standard: Cuomo’s Plan Put into Action

Unlike an RPS, New York’s CES plan includes nuclear power

On August 1, New York regulators unanimously approved a Clean Energy Standard that requires 50% renewable energy use by 2030, affirming and laying groundwork for Governor Cuomo’s mandate. The New York State Public Service Commission estimates it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

In order to achieve the ambitious goal, the standard’s implementation schedule has been made to be an aggressive one, with a 26.31% renewable requirement in 2017 increasing to 30.54% by 2021, and so forth.

A Clean Energy Standard, Not Quite an RPS

While the standard looks similar to a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), the word “clean” in place of “renewable” denotes the inclusion of nuclear power. Nuclear falls into the Tier 3 category and will be subsidized through Zero Emission Certificates (ZECs). The plan comes at a crucial moment for three nuclear facilities in particular which have experienced financial difficulty.

No Solar Carve Out

The standard builds on New York’s existing regime, including the NY-Sun initiative, which has helped installed renewable capacity grow by 300% between 2011 and 2014. However, despite the solar industry’s impressive growth in New York, the Clean Energy Standard does not include a solar carve-out or sub-tier, which have driven development in other top solar states such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Solar will therefore compete with all other “Main Tier” or Tier 1 resources such as wind, hydro, anaerobic digesters, and fuel cells.

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