Cuomo signs offshore wind power agreement, commits NY to reduce greenhouse gases by 85%

Photo by Mike Groll from Gov. Cuomo’s Office: Vice President Al Gore joined Governor Cuomo for the announcement on Thursday in New York City.

Posted 21 July 2019 at 9:11 am

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by former Vice President Al Gore, on Thursday executed the nation’s largest offshore wind agreement and the single largest renewable energy procurement by any state in U.S. history – nearly 1,700 megawatts – with the selection of two offshore wind projects, that will create enough energy to power over 1 million homes, create more than 1,600 jobs, and result in $3.2 billion in economic activity.

Governor Cuomo also signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, or CLCPA, which adopts the most ambitious and comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation in the country. The announcement underscores New York’s undisputed position as a global leader in climate and clean energy, and advances Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading mandate of 9,000 megawatts by 2035. Additionally, the offshore wind announcement is expected to catalyze the first generation of major United States supply chain investments by the fast-growing offshore wind sector, positioning New York to be the hub of the nation’s burgeoning offshore wind industry.

“The environment and climate change are the most critically important policy priorities we face,” Governor Cuomo said. “They literally will determine the future – or the lack thereof. Even in today’s chaos of political pandering and hyperbole there are still facts, data and evidence – and climate change is an undeniable scientific fact. But cries for a new green movement are hollow political rhetoric if not combined with aggressive goals and a realistic plan on how to achieve them. With this agreement, New York will lead the way in developing the largest source of offshore wind power in the nation, and today I will sign the most aggressive climate law in the United States of America.”

Nation’s Largest Offshore Wind Agreement

To jump-start progress towards New York’s unprecedented clean energy goals, which includes 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, Cuomo announced the winners of New York’s first comprehensive offshore wind solicitation: the Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind development projects of Equinor US Holdings, Inc. and Bay State Wind LLC, a joint venture of Ørsted A/S and Eversource Energy, respectively.

Combined, both projects will total 1,700 megawatts, enough to power more than one million New York homes and support more than 1,600 jobs with a combined economy activity of $3.2 billion statewide.  As of today, New York has awarded a total of approximately 4,700 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy contracts since March 2018 through three separate solicitations, a globally significant advancement in renewable energy in just two years. Collectively, these projects will provide enough renewable energy to power up to two million households and meet nearly 10% of New York’s electricity needs by 2025.

The project developers have committed to make additional investments in manufacturing and port infrastructure, on top of the commitments in Governor Cuomo’s 2019 State of the State address. A total of $287 million will be invested in cutting-edge infrastructure in multiple regions of the state, including the Capital Region, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island. These financial commitments will unlock private supply chain capital and maximize the long-term economic benefits to the state from the regional development of offshore wind.

Reaching 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind is expected to create more than 10,000 jobs. The state is also taking new steps to support workforce development in partnership with the private sector, including establishing a New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development, a new $20 million Offshore Wind Training Institute (OWTI) and a $3 million Community and Workforce Benefits Fund (CWB Fund) to establish the institutional infrastructure to educate, train and employ New Yorkers. Offshore wind will utilize many of the same labor trades that have driven New York’s infrastructure and economy for the past several decades. These investments will particularly benefit New York’s low-income and environmental justice communities, critical outcomes of the CLCPA and Governor Cuomo’s commitment to a just transition to clean power.

Historic Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act

The CLCPA requires the State to achieve a carbon free electricity system by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% below 1990 levels by 2050, setting a new standard for states and the nation to expedite the transition to a clean energy economy. The new law will drive investment in clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, energy efficiency and energy storage. Importantly, implementation of the CLCPA will target investments to benefit disadvantaged communities, create tens of thousands of new jobs, improve public health and quality of life and provide all New Yorkers with more robust clean energy choices.

Highlights of the new law include:

• Putting New York on Road to Economy-Wide Carbon Neutrality: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will, through the adoption of regulations, drive an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with an interim mandate of 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 (both relative to 1990 levels). The Climate Action Council will develop a plan to offset remaining emissions through carbon capture or other technologies, resulting in a carbon-neutral economy.

• 70% Renewable Energy by 2030 and Zero-Carbon Emission Electric Sector by 2040: The CLCPA codifies Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading goals as called for under his Green New Deal, mandating that at least 70% of New York’s electricity come from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by 2030, and that the state’s power system is 100% carbon neutral by 2040.

• Nation-Leading Clean Energy Investments: The CLCPA also codifies Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading commitments to install 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035; 6,000 megawatts of distributed solar by 2025; and 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030.

• Climate Action Council and Policy Roadmap: Expert heads of relevant state agencies and legislative appointees will craft the roadmap of policies needed to achieve the law’s mandates. The Council, co-chaired by the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) and DEC, will establish sector specific working groups to make sure experts and stakeholders inform all policies developed under the CLCPA. Planned working groups include a just transition working group, as well as working groups on transportation, agriculture, energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries, land use and energy efficiency.

• Landmark Investments in Environmental Justice and Just Transition: Relevant state agencies will invest 35% of clean energy program resources to benefit disadvantaged communities, and will aim to invest 40%. Additionally, the just transition working group will work to ensure that individuals working in conventional energy industries are provided with training and opportunities in the growing clean energy economy.

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