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.

You may also like

What’s Keeping the Heat On?

As another Arctic blast hits the Northeast and temperatures plunge, more energy is needed to keep New Yorkers warm.  Where is that energy coming from?  Read More

Summary of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s Scoping Plan

The Scoping Plan makes the following recommendations to guide CLCPA implementation. Read More

Emails show Cuomo’s staff working on his memoir at the peak of New York’s pandemic

Newly available records shed further light on the origins of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pandemic memoir, which won him a $5.1 million publishing contract before contributing to his political downfall. The records reveal that his government staff were a Read More

LIPA Commission Blows Past Another Deadline

The continues to flout its statutory deadlines. After public hearings more than two months late, it has now blown past its December 31 deadline f Read More

Hochul’s Call on Crypto Bill Puts Climate Agenda over Upstate Economy

After remaining for months on the fate of the proposed two-year moratorium on crypto-mining, Governor Kathy Hochul has now the bill into law, as her administr Read More

Municipalized LIPA Won’t Solve Long Islanders’ Power Woes

If the power goes out under a fully municipalized LIPA, you can bet neither the Legislature nor public power advocates will accept the blame. Read More

Hochul’s Pandemic Study Is Off to an Underwhelming Start

Although Governor Hochul's long-promised review of New York's COVID response hasn't formally started yet, it has already exposed important information about the state's pandemic preparedness – much of which is unflattering. Read More

Can New York Afford the “Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022”?

On November 8, New Yorkers will be voting on Proposal 1, the $4.2 billion “Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond.” Read More

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!