how-sc-works-install-150x150-3077582For a second consecutive year, the state Public Service Commission (PSC) has deeply slashed the amount of renewable energy that utility companies are forced to buy under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard (CES). The move casts further doubt on the governor’s goal of having renewables supply 50 percent of the state’s electricity by 2030—while reinforcing the CES program’s status as primarily a bailout for money-losing upstate nuclear plants.

The commission quietly voted Friday to approve the CES “Phase 2 Implementation Plan,” which reduces from 1.1 percent to 0.15 percent the share of electricity that utilities and large-scale electricity users—together known as “load-serving entities”—must obtain from renewables during 2018. Last fall, the commission made a similar reduction to the 2017 requirements, cutting it from 0.6 percent to a minuscule 0.035 percent.

The cuts were necessary because the commission used overblown estimates of what renewable energy sources would be available during its rushed implementation of the standard—as noted in the Empire Center’s October 2016 “Green Overload” report. The standard, after all, was written explicitly to prohibit renewables, such as Canadian hydropower, that might compete with the solar panels and wind turbines envisioned for (but not yet installed in) upstate New York.

The PSC is once again assuming that renewable generation will jump enough in the future to meet Cuomo’s goal. However, the growth from the current level of nearly 24 percent to 50 percent must now be compressed into 12 years instead of 14. And while the hike from 0.035 percent to 0.15 percent may appear small, it indicates the PSC is counting on a more than four-fold increase in the amount of renewables eligible for CES subsidies in the year ahead.

The CES was originally a product of Governor Cuomo’s “50-by-30” efforts. However, the program was transformed midstream into a bailout for Exelon Corporation, the owner of three money-losing nuclear power plants. Under the standard, Exelon will receive $483 million during the first full year of subsidies which began April 1, 2017, and billions more over the next several years. The money comes from ratepayers paying a higher price for electricity, as load-serving entities must purchase CES credits, the proceeds of which are distributed to renewable generators—and to Exelon.

The repeated cuts to the renewable requirements mean that by the end of 2018, based on 2017 credit prices, the Clean Energy Standard will have cost ratepayers $851 million—of which $845 million, or 99.3 percent, will have been turned over to Exelon, leaving the program on pace to become one of, if not the biggest corporate subsidies in state history.

About the Author

Ken Girardin

Ken Girardin is the Empire Center’s Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Read more by Ken Girardin

You may also like

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. Read More

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Can Cuomo still be impeached?

Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump have more in common than boyhood homes in Queens. Like Trump, Cuomo could still face impeachment and an impeachment trial despite a promise to resign as Governor later this month. Read More

The Gov’s pension

There are several (dozens? hundreds?) of unanswered questions as the fallout from Andrew Cuomo's resignation earlier today continues. Among those are questions related to his pension, some of which can be answered, sort of. Read More

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!