By Tommy Beaudreau, Janice Schneider, and David Amerikaner

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released the 2018 Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Agenda last week as the 20th proposal of his 2018 State of the State address. The far-reaching proposal charts a path forward for further progress in advancing clean energy in New York this year, and beyond.

In particular, the agenda intends to promote clean energy development, combat climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through reductions in greenhouse gas caps, additional goals for offshore wind development, and investments in energy infrastructure and storage, as well as other initiatives. This agenda supplements New York’s previously adopted commitment to generate 50% of the state’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030.Highlights of the New York Clean Energy Jobs and Climate Agenda

  • New Offshore Wind Solicitations: As Latham previously reported, New York is seeking to be the undisputed leader in the emerging offshore wind industry on the Atlantic coast. The state previously adopted a target of 2.4 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power by 2030, which is currently the largest target in the nation. Governor Cuomo is now calling for the procurement of at least 800 MW of offshore wind power — enough energy to power 400,000 homes with clean energy — through two solicitations scheduled for 2018 and 2019. New York is also developing a Master Plan to provide information on project siting and environmental and use conflicts while working actively with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to identify additional areas for offshore wind leasing.
  • Workforce Development: The New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will invest US$15 million in clean energy workforce development and infrastructure advancement to train workers for jobs in the clean energy industry, including offshore wind construction, installation, operation, maintenance, design, and associated infrastructure. Attracting private investment in port infrastructure and supply chain activities is a key focus of this investment.
  • Tightened Caps on Greenhouse Gas Emissions under RGGI: The agenda includes new measures to further strengthen regional caps on greenhouse gases through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative            (RGGI), a market-based regulatory effort of nine eastern US states. In 2013, the RGGI states committed to reduce power plant emissions by 50% by 2020. Since that time, RGGI has exceeded expectations, with New York estimating that the program has provided more than US$2 billion in regional economic benefits and US$5.7 billion in public health benefits, as well as larger emissions reductions than the current cap requires. In August 2017, the RGGI states announced consensus on a new cap to lower emissions by an additional 30% by 2030. Governor Cuomo will direct the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to undertake a rulemaking in 2018 to implement this new cap.
  • Regulation of “Peaker” Plants: Governor Cuomo will direct DEC to adopt regulations in 2018 to expand the scope of RGGI regulations. Currently, RGGI covers only power plants with a capacity of 25 megawatts (MW) or more, thereby excluding many smaller plants that operate only when demand is especially high (known as “peaker” plants). New directives will group together peaker plants for regulation under RGGI caps.
  • Investment in Energy Transmission Infrastructure: The governor will launch an initiative to deploy 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025. New York intends to use this investment to facilitate the increased utilization of renewable energy resources like wind and solar, which provide intermittent power and thus require improved energy storage infrastructure. The governor also proposes a commitment of at least US$200 million from the NY Green Bank for investment in energy storage. Finally, the governor is directing NYSERDA to allocate at least US$60 million for storage pilot programs and projects intended to reduce barriers to deploying energy storage.

The agenda also highlighted other efforts, including:

  • Creation of a Zero Cost Community Solar Program: Governor Cuomo will direct NYSERDA to use its purchasing power to secure community solar subscriptions and provide them at zero cost to deliver cost savings and clean energy to more than 10,000 New Yorkers.
  • Reconvening of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change: In June 2017, the governors of New York, California, and Washington formed the US Global Climate Alliance to continue to meet or exceed the emissions reductions targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The creation of the Alliance followed President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Governor Cuomo announced that the US Climate Alliance will reconvene the national Advisory Committee, a group of scientists, NGOs, government officials, and industry representatives, to continue to provide scientific information to governments, industry, and other stakeholders on the impacts of climate change.
  • Energy Efficiency Enhancements: Governor Cuomo will direct NYSERDA and the New York Department of Public Service to propose a comprehensive energy efficiency initiative, as well as a new 2025 energy efficiency target, by Earth Day on April 22, 2018. NYSERDA will also propose appliance efficiency standards.
  • Coal Phase Out: DEC will adopt regulations to end the use of coal in the state’s power plants by 2020.

Latham & Watkins is closely following clean energy initiatives in New York and around the world, and will continue to provide updates on this blog.

This post was prepared with the assistance of Kimberly Castle in the New York office of Latham & Watkins LLP.