Computer chip manufacturer Micron has revealed that by the 2040s its Onondaga County factories are going to be sucking up enough electricity to power New Hampshire and Vermont combined. Put another way, in a single year Micron will use enough energy to power the city of Buffalo for more than six years.
All of it is supposed to come from renewable energy—but to date, despite offering Micron $6.3 billion in taxpayers’ money to move to New York, the state has no plan for providing that much renewable power.
Micron predicts it will use over 16,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually. To get a sense of how much that is, a gigawatt-hour is roughly the amount of energy produced by a single large nuclear reactor in one hour. Micron’s expected demand is almost exactly what the two reactors at the Nine Mile Point nuclear plant produce each year.
But since their factories will allegedly use 100 percent renewable energy, the big question is where it will come from.
Micron will need to draw 1.85 gigawatts of power from the grid continually, 24 hours a day, to power its operations. The New York Power Authority has offered Micron 140 megawatts (0.14 gigawatts) of hydropower. It may not have that much to spare, except at night when statewide electricity demand drops. But even if it can steadily provide Micron that much power, that’s just over 7 percent of the company’s needs.
Micron has also signed a 178-megawatt (0.178 gigawatt) onshore wind power agreement. That will produce less than 467 gigawatt-hours annually, a mere three percent of Micron’s needs.
Add those together, and 90 percent of Micron’s power demand remains to be determined.
Even before Govenor Hochul bribed Micron to come to New York, the state faced a 10 percent deficit in its energy supply by 2040, creating a risky future of probable blackouts due to insufficient power production.
The danger is caused by the state’s climate policies. As consumers are mandated to buy electric cars, and households are forced to switch from natural gas to electric heat, electricity demand is expected to as much as double by midcentury. And 70 percent of that future electricity demand must be supplied by renewable energy.
Because hydropower output will not increase significantly, solar and wind power must increase from their current output of approximately 7,600 gigawatt-hours to as much as 185,000 gigawatt-hours by 2050. When Micron is added to the mix, the need will rise to almost 200,000 gigawatt-hours of wind and solar, a 2,600 percent increase from today.
That’s a challenge New York simply has no real plan for achieving, because the state’s renewable and clean energy goals are based more on wishful thinking than hard-headed analysis about the technical challenges of radically restructuring the state’s power system.