State Energy Plan Promotes Clean, Efficient Alternatives
Dec 15, 2009 - Mireya Navarro - New York Times
A New York State board has recommended a plan intended to make energy more affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly while helping to create jobs over the next 10 years, officials said.
The plan, released Tuesday by the State Energy Planning Board, is not binding, but Gov. David A. Paterson, who convened the board last year, said the recommendations will guide legislation he plans to pursue in the year ahead.
“New York will lead the nation in the clean energy economy, and this state energy plan will help us get there,” Governor Paterson said in a statement.
The plan includes improvements in energy efficiency, more reliance on state energy supplies like natural gas and increased investment in clean-energy projects as a source of jobs.
One initiative in the plan, which updates energy goals set in a similar report in 2002, calls for a new state building code that would require stricter energy efficiency standards. Another calls for disclosing energy use for buildings at the time of sale to encourage energy upgrades. The plan also calls for expanding solar and wind energy projects while doubling the state’s production of natural gas, a less polluting fossil fuel than coal.
Thomas Congdon, the deputy secretary of energy for Governor Paterson and the board’s chairman, said the plan was critical to the broad goal of meeting 45 percent of the state’s electricity needs by 2015 by increasing its reliance on renewable energy and keeping a lid on overall demand. He said it emphasized energy efficiency more than previous blueprints and laid out a timetable for action by government agencies and lawmakers.
“It’s one of the most aggressive clean-energy targets in the country, with a very detailed implementation plan to get us there,” he said.
But while generally praising the plan’s comprehensiveness, environmentalists and other supporters of the state’s goals said that it fell short on setting specific targets, and some were skeptical about how much of it would end up being implemented. James Van Nostrand, executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center, said that 10 months after the governor announced his “45 percent by 2015 goal,” the State Public Service Commission has yet to take specific action to help finance some of the programs that would help meet that goal.
“In our experience New York has never had a problem identifying policy objectives,” Mr. Van Nostrand said. “It’s just the implementation that is slow.”
But some business groups said they were optimistic that some of their priorities would be addressed. They particularly welcomed the plan’s embracing of legislation to establish a uniform statewide permit process to speed up the approval of applications for power plants.
Mr. Congdon said applications now have to meet the individual requirements of local governments, a process that has deterred or slowed dozens of proposals for new wind farms. But Paul Steidler, a spokesman for the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, said many of the proposals were for natural gas plants, particularly after state officials finish drafting regulations for natural gas drilling on the Marcellus Shale.
If the permit process were simpler, he said, “you’d get quite a few proposals out of the gate.”