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New York’s Path To A Clean Energy Future Must Be Carbon Free

New York took a major step forward this year, passing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) which establishes the most aggressive and ambitious goals in the nation to combat the climate crisis, mandating carbon-free electricity by 2040 and a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. But the federal government is again making it hard for New York to implement these much-needed policies.

Late last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved measures to undercut clean energy resources in our neighboring regional electricity market, PJM. Then less than two weeks ago it ruled on similar measures for New York’s electricity market, that will that will undermine the ability of New York’s clean energy resources, particularly renewable energy and energy storage, to compete in the electricity market against fossil fuels. This means it will be harder and costlier to reduce carbon emissions and endanger the state’s goals of 70 percent renewable generation by 2030 and carbon-free electricity by 2040 and will increase electricity bills for consumers.

Currently, New York’s electricity markets do not reflect the societal costs associated with emissions produced by certain electricity generators. For example, a power plant that uses fossil fuels to generate electricity is not charged or penalized for emitting carbon and other air pollutants. Yet, New Yorkers feel the effects of the economic and public health burdens of fossil fuel emissions from the quality of the air we breathe, including emissions-related health impacts like asthma.

Consistent with its legacy of leadership, New York established programs to compensate clean energy resources for their positive environmental and public health benefits. However, the Trump administration’s new rules will undercut the state’s renewable energy sources, limit our ability to reduce the pollution in the air we breathe, and increase consumers’ electricity costs.

The best way to speed the buildout of additional clean energy is to continue to push for commonsense policy solutions like the carbon pricing plan proposed by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), an independent body charged with running our state’s electricity grid.

Pricing carbon within NYISO’s wholesale electricity markets would help align the markets with New York’s public policy objectives and position the state to efficiently achieve the decarbonization goals embodied in the CLCPA – all while reducing the carbon footprint of the state’s electric grid and doing so at the least cost to consumers.

The Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACENY) recently released a report outlining how NYISO’s carbon pricing proposal will lower the costs associated with achievement of the state’s Clean Energy Standard by some $200 million between 2022 and 2030. Carbon pricing would speed the exit of fossil fuel resources from the grid, which would reduce emissions – particularly in environmental justice communities throughout New York City. 

Implementing NYISO’s carbon pricing proposal will further New York’s transition to a clean energy economy and establish a nation-leading model for charging the biggest polluters for their emissions, rather than consumers.

If we have any chance of meeting the aggressive goals outlined in the CLCPA we need to use every tool available, and numerous studies have shown that carbon pricing gets the state to its goals faster and at a lower cost than without.

Now is the time to further our state’s leadership legacy by insisting that we stick to the aggressive CLCPA timeline and align New York’s electricity markets with its public policy objectives by implementing carbon pricing.

The planet our children and grandchildren will inherit depends on it.

About CarbonFreeNY:

Led by a diverse network of environmental groups, energy providers, labor unions and clean energy advocates, CFNY’s mission is to encourage all appropriate stakeholders to work together to implement the NYISO carbon pricing proposal that will help New York achieve its clean energy policy goals and be the nation’s clean energy leader through the decarbonization of our electricity sector.