State Department of Public Service Recommends that New York Adopt 25 Percent Renewable Energy Requirement

New York Would Slash Global Warming Pollution, Become a Leader on Renewable Energy, Says NRDC

NEW YORK (June 3, 2004) - New York could cut air pollution significantly if it adopts today's recommendation from the Department of Public Service that 25 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable resources by 2013, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). The 25 percent renewable energy requirement is known as a renewable portfolio standard or RPS.

"If the state moves quickly to approve this recommendation, New York will lead the nation on renewable energy," said Katherine Kennedy, an NRDC senior attorney. "And if clean renewable energy can make it here, it can make it anywhere."

A year-and-a-half ago Gov. George E. Pataki announced his support for a strong renewable energy requirement in his January 2003 State of the State address, during which he pledged to make New York "a national leader in renewable energy usage." Today's recommendation provides, for the first time, a requirement for renewable energy and guidelines on how the state would phase in the renewable portfolio standard. The state Public Service Commission, which regulates electricity in New York, must approve the recommendation before the state can begin implementing the standard.

"Chairman William Flynn and his staff at the Department of Public Service deserve great credit for their skillful handling of the RPS proceeding so far," said Kennedy. "But we won't see cleaner air and better public health unless the Public Service Commission acts immediately to approve the renewable energy requirement."

"Renewable energy is a wise investment for New York," said Nathanael Greene, an NRDC senior policy analyst. "In contrast to dirty, outdated fossil fuel-burning power plants, the renewable portfolio standard will create local jobs, stabilize electricity and natural gas prices, and help New Yorkers avoid spending our hard earned cash on imported fossil fuels."

Today's recommendation defines renewable energy as wind, fuel cell, solar, biomass, landfill gas and tidal power. The department decision deliberately left out power from garbage incineration facilities because of its threat to public health and the environment. "Including toxic trash burning in the renewable portfolio standard would sully Governor Pataki's vision for a clean energy future for New York," said Kennedy. "We're counting on the Public Service Commission, which has to approve the plan, to keep trash out of the standard."

According to conservative estimates by the New York Department of Public Service, by 2013 the renewable portfolio standard will cost New Yorkers little and provide significant environmental benefits, including cutting smog-producing nitrogen oxides by nearly 7 percent, acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide by nearly 6 percent, and carbon -- a key contributor to global warming -- by more than 7 percent. Experts expect even greater air pollution decreases in the downstate region. The renewable portfolio standard will reduce gas and oil-powered electric generation in New York by 9 percent.

Focusing only on electricity costs, the cumulative net present value of the renewable portfolio standard from 2006 to 2013 is estimated to cost between $158 million to $328 million (based on current fuel costs). Residential customer electric bill will drop or go up slightly, depending on circumstances. The Department of Public Service expects bill impacts to range from a 1.2 percent drop to a 1.8 percent increase. This means that if a consumer's monthly electric bill is $50, the bill will either decrease or increase by only about 75 cents to a dollar.