New York to get half its electricity from renewable energy by 2030

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New York is rapidly becoming a destination for renewable energy in the U.S. Northeast. The state was the 7th-largest U.S. solar market in 2014, and is currently undergoing an ambitious restructuring of its distribution grid to give a greater role to solar and other distributed energy solutions.

New York Governor Cuomo has furthered this ambition by ordering state regulators to create a mandate for 50% renewable energy in electricity by 2030, according to press reports. While the governor’s office did not respond to requests for confirmation by the time this article went live, this approach was reported by New York Times and Associated Press.

While most states have implemented renewable energy mandates through their legislatures, New York’s current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was created through the New York Public Service Commission. The policy requires New York utilities to source 29% of their electricity from renewables by 2015, expiring this year.

"Governor Cuomo’s plan to implement a 50 percent RPS presents a strong endorsement for solar power as part of a responsible approach to a clean energy future,” commented Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President & CEO Rhone Resch.

“A 50 percent RPS is a significant milestone toward addressing New York’s climate goals, and reaffirms the state as a leader in seizing the economic advantages of clean energy.”

According to officials who spoke to New York Times on condition of anonymity, utilities would be able to meet incremental targets using nuclear power. Entergy Corporation has filed with federal regulators to close the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant in New York State by early 2017, against the wishes of the Cuomo Administration.

New York State regulators are currently working out the details of the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, which is intended to open the distribution grid to competition in much the same way that deregulation has liberalized wholesale electricity generation in many states. pv magazine will look at the details of the REV process in an article in the upcoming December print edition.

And While pv magazine was not able to confirm the presence of any specific targets for solar or other forms of distributed generation in the new goals, REV’s focus on distributed generation is one of the reasons why small-scale solar may play a large role in meeting these targets.

“New York’s solar market has primarily been driven by small scale distributed solar projects 2 megawatts or less,” notes GTM Research Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman. “And with a few nuclear power plants at risk of being shut down over the next several years, there’s a chance that a 50% RPS proceeding debate will center on the feasibility of that target being met primarily by small scale distributed energy resources, rather than centralized renewable energy projects.”

The Cuomo Administration had already announced 50% renewable energy as a goal, which is the same level and date that California has set into law. When implemented, this will put New York with California and Hawaii among the top three states for renewable energy targets. Hawaii has set a mandate to source 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2045.