It's official: New York to get a 50% by 2030 renewable energy program by July 2016

On Sunday November 22, the New York Times and Associated Press reported that New York Governor Cuomo had given the order for state regulators to create a 50% by 2030 renewable energy mandate for the state, in line with previous goals.

Despite these press reports, the Governor’s office had refused to confirm this mandate. That changed today, when Governor Cuomo produced a letter to New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) CEO Audrey Zibelman to create a program for 50% renewable energy by 2030.

Significantly, the letter includes a timeline: DPS must create this policy by July 2016. It also clears up the role of nuclear in the program, which had been a subject of wide speculation.

Governor Cuomo has ordered the PSC to provide “additional attention” to ensure that sources of nuclear power remain operational. It specifically notes that the shutdown of “upstate” nuclear facilities would wipe out emissions progress made through renewable energy programs.

The signifier “upstate” may be a reference to the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Station, which plant operator Entergy Corporation said that it would close a month ago. This geographical distinction would also exclude the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which is located 25 miles north of New York City.

However, this support will be “separate and distinct” from the renewable energy mandate.

What is still unknown is the actual mechanisms which will be used to support the 50% renewable energy target, which will be revealed in coming months. The previous Renewable Portfolio Standard had mandated that 0.5% of state electricity production come from distributed generation by 2015, and 29% from renewables overall.

GTM Research Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman warns against the assumption that the new Clean Energy Standard will be closely modeled on the the policy which was successfully completed this year, stating that the Reforming the ongoing Energy Vision (REV) proceeding “Should spur some innovative approaches”.

“It probably won’t be done like it was before,” Honeyman told pv magazine. “(REV) definitely changes the conversation about how an RPS will be implemented.”