The New Yorkers for Clean Power (NYCP) campaign launched today, to connect people and communities across the state with the clean energy opportunities available to them. Convened by the NRDC, Sierra Club, Frack Action, Catskill Mountainkeeper, The Solutions Project, and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), and guided by an advisory committee that includes actor Mark Ruffalo, the campaign is also partnering with organizations, businesses, and other groups throughout the state. Our goal is to help New Yorkers learn about the many things we can do, as individuals and businesses, as participants in community institutions and local governments, to help the clean energy economy blossom right here in New York.
Bold leadership by public officials like Governor Cuomo, of course, has been and will continue to be crucial to the clean-energy transition, and there’s a lot to be excited about in the Empire State. Over the last several years, New York has been a leader on climate and clean energy. Policies and programs like the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and NY-Sun, among others, have helped create more than 85,000 jobs here in fields like energy efficiency, solar energy, wind power, and cleaner vehicles. That’s the news out today in a new report titled “Clean Jobs New York.” And thanks to the governor’s recent directive to establish and implement a binding Clean Energy Standard (CES) to get 50 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, we can create many more new jobs. The same goes for the recently adopted Clean Energy Fund, which will dedicate $5 billion to investments in clean energy over the next ten years.
And by taking matters into our own hands and taking advantage of the many programs New York State has established to reduce energy waste and promote pollution-free power and cleaner vehicles, there’s even more we can do to create the kind of clean energy economy that the vast majority of New Yorkers want and to help send clean energy job numbers skyward.
The New Yorkers for Clean Power campaign will hold educational events and engage communities, local businesses, and others from Montauk to Buffalo and Plattsburgh to Battery Park. Its representatives will help New Yorkers learn about existing and emerging clean energy programs in the state and how we can help New York become even more of a leader on clean energy and climate. NYCP will ensure that the state’s initiatives reach their full potential. (These include programs that are part of the NY-Sun Initiative, which aims to install 3 gigawatts of solar energy by 2023, enough to power 400,000 New York homes or roughly 10 percent of statewide peak demand; Charge NY, which plans to bring 3,000 new electric vehicle charging stations to the state; and, Green Jobs Green New York, which promotes energy efficiency, solar power, and clean energy employment.) There are unclaimed clean-energy opportunities out there for almost all of us, and NYCP wants to help us step up and take advantage of all they have to offer. The campaign is even promoting them with a “Road to Renewables” tour, which will traverse the state in a plug-in hybrid vehicle loaned by Ford. Among the specific areas of focus for the campaign are solar power, offshore wind, electric vehicles (EVs), and energy efficiency.
Of course, there’s more we can do to build upon the many successes that have been central to New York’s clean energy leadership so far. Energy efficiency, of course, plays a critical part in achieving New York’s climate and clean energy goals. It is the cheapest, easiest and fastest way to address climate change. And it generates a slew of economic, health and grid benefits. Ramping energy efficiency up further is key to our overall, clean energy success, and to meeting the CES goals in the most cost-effective way possible. As the State pursues its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative and the CES, it should be sure to put in place an energy efficiency standard that guarantees electricity savings of at least 2 percent a year. Those kinds of savings shouldn’t be hard for us to accomplish. (Leading states on energy efficiency like Massachusetts and Rhode Island are already approaching annual savings levels of nearly 3 percent, thanks to smart energy efficiency policies that generate about three dollars in benefits for every dollar invested.)
In addition, by setting a target for offshore wind power as part of the CES, New York can jumpstart the important offshore wind power industry. With the understanding that offshore wind power projects have to be sited and built in ways that protect marine ecosystems, 5,000 megawatts by 2025 is definitely an achievable goal. With the right policies in place, these offshore projects won’t just improve the reliability of our electric grid and cut our electric costs, they’ll also generate thousands of new jobs.
The same kind of benefits can come from the State’s promotion of electric vehicles. Right now, more than one-third of New York’s greenhouse gas pollution pours out of the tailpipes of cars, trucks, and buses. EVs, running on increasingly clean electricity, are the antidote to that problem. Through the Public Service Commission and specifically through the REV goals to make New York’s electric system cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable, the State can encourage utilities to get involved in advancing plug-in vehicles. Utilities have much to gain from EV deployment. And appropriately empowered, they can educate consumers about EVs’ benefits, install more chargers in underserved areas, and utilize EVs to take better advantage of the increasing amount of renewable energy on the grid.
There’s so much New Yorkers and state leaders can do together to advance clean energy. That’s the word New Yorkers for Clean Power plans to get out. NRDC is excited to be part of the campaign, to help all New Yorkers take part in the fight against climate change and the effort to build a clean energy future.