New York Reaches An Important Wind Energy Milestone

Chris Bentley.jpg

The Empire State reached an important new milestone for wind power last week. On Monday, March 2nd, during the hour between 1 and 2 pm, wind power provided a full 7 percent of New York's electricity needs--a new record. "Wind power continues to grow as a power resource and the [New York Independent System Operator, New York's wholesale electric grid operator] continues to optimize our electric system's use of renewable power," NYISO President Stephen G. Whitley noted proudly about the important event. It's exciting news!

Wind farms, like this one in Lewis County, NY, supplied a full 7 percent of New York state's electricity on March 2nd. That's a new record. By expanding the state's renewable energy standard so that we get 50 percent of our power from renewable sources by 2025, we can reach many more new wind energy milestones. (photo: Chris Bentley)

Wind power has grown exponentially here in New York over the last 15 years, thanks in large part to the state's renewable energy standard, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard. (In fact, research shows state renewable energy portfolio standards are major drivers of clean energy projects across the nation.) New York's first wind farm came online in 2000, and 10 years ago, wind power provided just 48 megawatts of electric capacity. (A megawatt of wind power can supply between 800 and 1,000 New York homes.) Now, there are 1,744 megawatts of wind power deployed in the state, with another 2,000 megawatts in development. That's an increase of 3,500 percent! On average, wind power supplies a bit more than 3 percent of the state's electricity. And there's potential for a whole lot more, with the right policies in place. In fact, New York's onshore and offshore wind power resources are substantial.

That's one reason why, with New York's renewable energy standard is set to expire on December 31st, and the state moving through a regulatory process intended to make New York's electric system cleaner, more resilient and more affordable, NRDC advocates for a new renewable energy standard that will require our great state to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2025. Renewing and expanding New York's renewable energy program will also help mitigate climate change's most dangerous impacts, create jobs here in our state and around the country, will make the air our kids breathe cleaner, and will save consumers money on energy. Not only that: It will make New York the nation's undisputed leader in clean energy. (California, with its promise to get 50 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2030, now holds the crown. But should we let our friends on the Left Coast own that title? I can't imagine why we would.)

New Yorkers and the vast majority of Americans support government efforts to promote wind power. That's one reason NRDC is also pushing, at the federal level, to renew policies that promote this highly popular form of clean energy. Among the government incentives that deserve our support are the now-expired Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power and the also-expired Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for offshore wind power. Conventional sources of energy receive government subsidies worth billions annually and have for decades. The PTC and the ITC can help level the playing field for these pollution-free energy resources and help make them cost-competitive and even, eventually, cheaper than polluting sources of energy.

So congratulations to New York for achieving this important new milestone for wind power. With a new 50 percent by 2025 renewable energy standard in place, we'll be able to look forward to many more exciting milestones to come.